The Differences Between Free and Paid EMR Software
Smaller practices may perceive that the costs for using electronic medical record (EMR) software in their work operations can be relatively high. They also have to consider the expenses for its installation, maintenance, and possibly additional hardware. Despite the many benefits that they can get from using an EMR system, the costs in acquiring and maintaining EMR may serve as a deterrent. Because of this, free EMR software has become increasingly popular in the healthcare industry. Let us, therefore, discover the differences between free and paid EMR software.
What is EMR Software?
When running a medical practice, you must use EMR software to help you efficiently manage patient records and information such as their history, schedules, and other files. Thus, you must choose an EMR software that includes the features and functionalities that your practice needs. These features may consist of patient charts, automated scheduling, e-prescribing, forms and templates, billing integration, heatmaps, contact tracing, and many more.
Therefore, when choosing between free and paid EMR software to use for your medical practice, always remember that you should consider what you and your healthcare staff need. Paid EMR software relatively provides more features to its users, especially for larger hospitals or practices. Thus, they can address more hospital management needs. However, if you know what you are looking for, you may also get all of the features you require in your operations with free EMR. So, make sure that you have adequately looked into both free and paid EMR before choosing one for your practice.
Things to Consider Between Free and Paid EMR Software
Some companies would claim that their free products and services can function in the same way as their paid counterparts. However, you must be cautious in downloading these products. Most of them would often fail to give you what you expect in terms of their promised features and functionalities. For instance, you cannot guarantee that your data is secure when using free software or applications. Here are some things to consider when choosing between free and paid EMR software:
Yes, free EMR will not require you to shelve out money from your pocket. However, remember that these free versions will only offer you the most basic functions of the software or application. When using these free versions, you would often encounter hidden fees, especially when it comes to increasing storage space or improving security features. With paid EMR software, its developers ensure that you have all the features that you need for your practice. These include appointment scheduling, clinic management, billing, reporting, and more.
Aside from the hidden fees mentioned above, when using free EMR software, you may also encounter annoying advertisements, toolbars, and other pop-ups that may be potentially caused by malware and can disrupt your work operations. At first, these annoyances will not affect you. It's just a small price to pay for free software, right? However, you need to know that this will decrease your healthcare staff’s work efficiency and productivity in the long run. Of course, the provider of your free EMR software can remove said ads and pop-ups—but for a price.
Data Privacy Concerns
Both free EMR and paid EMR software will require you to input patient records and protected health information in its system. Depending on the features it offers for free, it also stores billing, payments, and other vital financial transactions of your business operations. Thus, to comply with the Data Privacy Act of 2012 (RA 10173), you need to be extra mindful of the security of your patient records and information. Additionally, the Data Privacy Act requires outsourcing agreements with the third party supplier where the supplier is a processor.
Hence, free software should be alright to use when the supplier has no access to the data. However, your free EMR may not be equipped with enough security measures to guarantee that information remains confidential and safe. Free applications have a shared database, which makes it easier for hackers to exploit data. They also do not provide customer support in case a data breach happens. On the other hand, paid EMR includes a dedicated server and a dedicated database per account. All these would ensure data privacy and security.
Why Consider Paid EMR Software?
Now, you may still be hesitant to use paid EMR software. Why spend money for an EMR when you can get it for free, right? Well, you may have a point. It would be best to start using free EMR software in your medical practice. In doing so, you and your staff can slowly get acquainted with the system. It would also allow you to pinpoint particular features or functions that need modification and improvement.
When using free EMR software, check if it is equipped with the features that your practice needs, especially data privacy and security. Then, determine if it also provides free training and support. After that, see if the system is capable of handling your practice's growth. Lastly, because every practice is unique from each other, guarantee that you can have it customized according to your practice when needed. If you cannot find all of these in your free EMR, consider using paid EMR software instead.
As such, you can first try out free EMR using dummy data. This way, you are assured that no confidential information can be disclosed. The goal is to try out the free EMR software and see if it addresses your practice needs before fully committing to its paid and more equipped version, if available. Cloud-based EMR software, for instance, may cost you with respective monthly fees, but this also means you get better functionality and greater scalability. Paid EMR software is also inclusive of much-needed technical support for your team. Moreover, their software developers can offer user training for you and your staff to ensure that you know the inner workings of the paid EMR software.
Address Practice Needs with Free and Paid EMR Software
You now know the differences between free and paid EMR software. The next thing to do is find one that will work best with you and your staff. Check out the PxTrack electronic medical records software. PxTrack provides medical practitioners with a free demo version, which they can customize according to their needs for a reasonable price. Discover PxTrack version 3 here!