Cheapo EHRs, Part II

September 14, 2007

There has been a rash of supposedly "free" EHRs lately.

There has been a rash of supposedly "free" EHRs lately. For example, software derived from the publicly available VA VistA EHR may be free, but support costs as much as many commercial programs do on a monthly basis. Vendors of other free programs require physicians to tolerate product advertisements (Practice Fusion) or information from drug companies (Amplus).

Now a small web-based EHR vendor named RemedyMD has come up with a new way to play this game. It has built a "predictive informatics engine" that allows physicians to run reports on their own clinical data and to compare it with patient information from all the practices that use the EHR and store their data on RemedyMD's server. (Of course, the patient data is de-identified, and patients have to give their consent beforehand.)

Thus, for example, a surgeon could compare the outcomes of his bariatric operations with those of other surgeons who've done the same procedure. Or a doctor could run a report on patients with similar characteristics and problems to that of the patient he's examining to support a medical decision.

If a physician isn't interested in these kinds of reports, he can use RemedyMD for free, says company chairman and CEO Gary Kennedy, a former Oracle executive. But if he wants to use the predictive informatics engine, he pays $100-$200 a month; technical support will cost him another $200 a month. And if he just wants to use the EHR for data collection, he has to give RemedyMD access to his patient information, which Kennedy says will not be sold to a pharma company or any other third party.

Will physicians be interested in using RemedyMD's reporting capability? Kennedy says that about 200 physicians are using the EHR, which formerly cost about $10,000. Seventy percent of them, he says, have been willing to pay additional monthly fees for his company's analytic tools.