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Free EMRs, Ads and EMR Pricing

Posted on September 19, 2011 I Written By

Priya Ramachandran is a Maryland based freelance writer. In a former life, she wrote software code and managed Sarbanes Oxley related audits for IT departments. She now enjoys writing about healthcare, science and technology.

Last week, I wrote about a conversation with a physician friend on the costs of moving to an EMR. That conversation segued into a discussion of free EMRs and how they can be a good thing for small (definitely a game changer for solo or two-practitioner) practices. This week, I’m analyzing free EMRs from the advertising angle. My friend made a comment during our discussion that gave me pause. He said he didn’t want advertisements distracting him when he was talking to a patient, he’d rather spring for a package that charged him a few dollars a month than one that had ads embedded inside it.

I think the ad question is pertinent to both sides of the equation. As a physician, I don’t want the 15 minutes I spend per patient cut down even more, because I want to get rid of those pesky pharmaceutical ads. As a patient, I don’t want to get the feeling that I’m the third wheel in the space between my doctor and his iPad.

And frankly, the low or no-cost, high volume Walmart strategy doesn’t make much sense to me in the long term. This is not based on some well-pedigreed consumer behavior study but what I’ve generally witnessed, or done myself. I’ve trained myself on the art of selective blocking. When I’m on Google, I studiously avoid looking at the highlighted links on the right, and top of the page. The same way, on eBay, when I’m looking for job opps, I generally skim past the purple highlighted vendors. If you’re a TV junkie, think about when you take your bathroom breaks.

In other words, we all have our own blocking strategies to ignore ads, which is probably not such good news for advertisers. This is not to say that advertisers won’t advertise, or vendors won’t make money.

If doctors already have some amount of natural reticence to ads, how are free EMR vendors going to make money? (I’m not sure if the ad model in free EMR packages is click/pageview driven, or a set price for simply being placed on the page, like magazine ads.) Free EMR vendors might then also offer ad-free versions, for additional dollars a month. At this point, they become just like other EMRs – i.e. when the costs are non-zero, price will not be the only differentiating factor when you’re judging EMR quality.

And yet, if my friend spends $100 a month for an ad-free EMR, as one vendor is offering, he’ll spend only $1200 a year personally for EMR, and be able to avail his Medicare 44K, as opposed to the 80K-100K EMR bids he’s currently getting. Even when ads (or lack of them) are factored out of the EMR pricing, the ad-removal-for-a-price model tends to work better for smaller practices.

Based on this, I feel like we’re going to see some steep discounting in EMR prices.

Avoiding the EMR Company Sales Tricks

Posted on October 26, 2010 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of and John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

Today I came across this blog post by the Gerson Lehrman Group (not sure who they are, but the content was good). In their blog post/news post/whatever they like to call it, they suggest 3 risks you should avoid to prevent being a victim of EMR vendor tricks.

With all the confusion going on, there are 3 risks you should avoid when making your EMR selection:
1. Paying too much for an EMR solution;
2. Buying a solution with little or no training or support;
3. Buying from a vendor who currently has or develops financial troubles or goes out of business.

The first two are INCREDIBLY important and I see people falling into those two traps all the time and I can barely understand why. There’s just far too many EMR and EHR vendors out there to be trapped into paying a TON of money for EMR software. Not to mention, many of them are more than willing to give you price quotes so you can compare the pricing.

Plus, don’t underestimate the need of training and support. Make sure that’s part of the package. In fact, many EMR vendors will give you unlimited training and support as part of your purchase. They can provide unlimited because they believe in their system and that you won’t need a TON of support. That’s a great thing.

The third item listed above is a little harder. Certainly there’s some you can do to evaluate where the company is and where the company is going. However, crazy stuff sometimes happens and you couldn’t have been aware of it. So, be aware of the third thing and make sure that there are things in your contract that take care of any situations like this happening.