EHRs

July 11, 2008

Be wary of free services, says Scott Shreeve, CEO of the healthcare management services firm Crossover Health and a prolific blogger http://crossoverhealth.wordpress.com/ who was skeptical of Practice Fusion, a free, web-browser-based EHR platform, prior to its launch in 2007.

Be wary of free services, says Scott Shreeve, CEO of the healthcare management services firm Crossover Health and a prolific blogger (http://crossoverhealth.wordpress.com/) who was skeptical of Practice Fusion, a free, web-browser-based EHR platform, prior to its launch in 2007.

Practice Fusion does not charge its users a license or hosting fee, but is funded through advertising on the EHR.

“While I don’t like the business model of Adware, it has proven itself in many other areas of the net,” Shreeve wrote in an e-mail to MedEc last month. “I find it very distasteful.”

However, Practice Fusion has caught on since its November 2007 launch, with 1,200 enrolled doctors seeing more than 200,000 patients as of late June. “Some physicians would rather have something for free with advertising than pay for software,” Shreeve says. “These must be the same physicians who still use pharmacy branded pens.”

Shreeve does credit Practice Fusion for pioneering the free, web-based EHR model and adding features and functionality to its software. In June, Practice Fusion unveiled additional free tools, including applications for practice management, scheduling, patient management, and secure e-mail.

“My distaste for ads should not dissuade anyone’s use of the product if it can stand on its own merits -- business model notwithstanding,” he says.

Practice Fusion CEO Ryan Howard says his company hasn’t logged any complaints about the ads, which are mostly text-based and appear along the side or top of the screen, similar to the way Google runs advertisements on its search engine.

“Doctors today are used to a lot of advertising in their practices,” says Howard, adding that the ads are targeted to the physician’s practice specialty and are not triggered by any personal patient information. “The average physician speaks to five pharma reps a day.”

As of press time, Practice Fusion had attracted “dozens” of advertisers, Howard says, including pharmaceutical companies, medical device manufacturers, billing service companies, and document imaging and scanning firms.

Howard hopes to have 5,000 doctors signed up by the end of the year.