Electronic Health Records and the Cloud

Last year I was recruited to find an Electronic Healthcare Records System (EHR) for a doctor who had just gone through a foiled implementation. I am always intrigued by being exposed to new sectors of technology and learning systems inside out.

The existing EHR system had a hardware failure and the vendor was asking for over $10,000 to recover the patient data. This combined with high maintenance and licensing fees proved to be too much for the doctor.

A consultant came in and sold the doctor on a hosted EHR system he had developed, unfortunately expectations were not set and the doctor was expecting his patient data to be available on this new system. Once it became apparent that there would be an additional cost in the thousands to recover and import this data into the new system the relationship went south.

This particular project was not only a technical but also a customer service challenge. Right from the start I made sure that the expectations were set and began looking at the possible solutions.

Amongst the many options available including traditional vendors, open source, home-grown systems, etc. (Tolven Healthcare, PatientOS, OpenEMR, Clearhealth, Abraxas, Medworks & Pulse)

I was looking to implement something that not only met the requirements (demographics, Medical history, Medications & allergies, Immunization status, Laboratory test results, Radiology images and Billing) of the client but was also scalable as a potential business. I ruled out the traditional EHR systems because of their high capital expenditure, ongoing costs, and approved VAR requirements. The open source solutions seemed very attractive but I was looking for something that did not require an on-site server thus it had to be hosted and using the cloud made it scalable.

So it came down to hosting an open-source package or using someone who had already done the legwork and I didn’t want to support this long term so the search turned 2 or 3 new cloud service providers of which only one I found to be mature enough to recommend; Practice Fusion.

Practice Fusion provides a free, web-based Electronic Medical Record (EMR) system to physicians. With charting, scheduling, e-prescribing, billing, lab integrations, referral letters, unlimited support and a Personal Health Record for patients, Practice Fusion’s EMR addresses the complex needs of today’s healthcare providers and disrupts the health IT status quo.

Although this did not turn out to be a passive income generator which I always have as a goal, it turned out to be a very educational and the platform for other ideas and projects.

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