If you are a therapist, psychiatrist, doctor, social worker, or anyone in the medical or mental health profession, you understand the need of a system to manage patient data. With the Internet, we now have a way to hold patient data that can be accessed anywhere. While Medical Record software programs exist (often called EMR or EHR’s), most are expensive and difficult to use. There is a new EHR out there called Practice Fusion, which is 100% free. While I like not spending money, I wonder what the catch is, as most EMR’s cost $100+ a month (some much more). I decided to take a look at Practice Fusion, and see what impressions I have from this free service.
1. It is 100% Free
I made an account and was able to get up and running in 30 minutes. At no point was a credit card asked, or any form of payment. They make money by advertising, which can be seen at various times while using the program. These ads are noticeable but do not get in the way of doing your work. Overall a minor annoyance at best. I read you can pay $100 a month to have the ads removed, but I see no reason to.
2. It Appears Fast and Stable
Client records loaded quickly. Most times I waited 1-2 seconds max to go from one activity to another. Everything worked; I got no error messages or broken pages. Your software is hosted on their server, meaning they have the responsibility of keeping it up, but also means all customers are hosted by them, and at times I imagine slowdowns if the system is being accessed heavily.
3. It has Tons of Options and Data
Practice Fusion is mainly designed for a Doctor’s office, and most of its data is tailored to this. It has tons of data and templates to use and allows the ability to create your own templates. If you are a doctor’s office, this program will do well by you. You can have multiple people in the practice, with different access levels, and each can have their own information. Overall it is impressive.
4. In House Scheduling
It has scheduling options that will handle most any type of practice. You can schedule different clinicians, and even have multiple locations in the system. Also, you can have it set so patients can schedule themselves if you want to have such a feature. Overall the scheduling system was easy to use and understand.
5. Ease of Use
Most tasks are easy to perform, and they provide videos and guides to help you understand most basic functions. I had to research some things, but I am not your normal user and like to poke around in things. It would not be difficult to set it up to run a practice or clinic.
1. Mostly for Medical Practices
If you are a doctor or run a clinic, this program is best for you. If you are a therapist or a professional that specializes in mental health, you will find it lacking. It will have tons of information and features you cannot use. As they host it, you cannot change it, meaning for each patient, you will have information on height, weight, and tons of information you will never use.
2. SOAP Notes
Do you like SOAP Notes? You better, that is the format for all documentation. You cannot change this, or use a different system. You can make templates within the SOAP format, but you cannot import a different format. This is limiting as there are other formats, and it would mean having to convert past notes and information into SOAP, which will take much time.
3. Locked-Down Format
You cannot change anything in the program besides information they allow. You cannot change how things are positioned, or how content is displayed. I did not see any themes or other ways you could view information. You are locked into what they provide and have no power to change it. What you see is what you get.
4. Lack of Control
As stated, the software is hosted on their servers. As a result, if they go down, you go down. You have no control over this. If the company were to go out of business, you could be in trouble. If you want to cancel your account, they allow this, but it can take up to six weeks to complete, and many have said it is a “nightmare”. To me, this is a major drawback. You are placing confidential information about your patients in the hands of a company. To me, this is a confidentially risk. What if an employee sees information on a patient, and publishes it? What if the company decides to cancel your account, what happens if your data is lost? You are not in control and are in their hands.
5. Lack of Image Scanning Integration
Many users complain you cannot scan information directly into the program, which causes time to be wasted. This is a good feature, as you will be scanning information often. The company says they are working on this. It is a feature many complain is missing.
I like the idea of Practice Fusion. I really do. I need a program like this that I can use to manage my practice. However, not being in control of my data is an extreme negative for me. I wish, instead, they had it so you could install it on your own server, then manage the data yourself. If that were the case, I would use it right now. For me, I am unsure I will use it. If I so, I will write a more detailed review.
You can find Practice Fusion Here.
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