EHR in the Cloud Portends Big Shift in HIT

Scott Mace, February 4, 2014

An electronic health record system provider is offering to equip small physicians practices with cloud-based software on a shoestring. The move is making high-end EHRs that cost tens of millions of dollars to get up and running look like dinosaurs, at least at small health systems.


Samsung Chromebook

One reason physicians have gravitated to mobile devices is the steep discount that phone carriers have passed along to customers to get their hands on the latest hot smartphone. Now that same trend has come to the doctor's office desktop—without the usual two-year commitment.

Practice Fusion, which for several years has given away free, web-based EHR software to small practices of 15 physicians or fewer, upped its game last month by announcing that it would make available one Chromebook per practice to anyone willing to sign up for its cloud EHR.

It's a marketing gimmick, but what a gimmick. Recipients sign no contract, and could basically take the Chromebook and run. Confident officials at Practice Fusion, riding a surge of adoption in 2013, believe recipients will like its cloud EHR enough to stay.

The venture-backed company is one of several big bets that individual practices are not going the way of the dinosaur. From their perspective, the endangered species is more likely to be the high-end EHRs that require tens of millions of dollars to get up and running at large systems.

To an extent, it's a comparison of apples and oranges. Practice Fusion cannot run a hospital. But as the industry moves away from hospitals and toward primary care as the main source of its revenue, equipping a small practice with cloud-based Meaningful Use Stage 2-compliant software on a shoestring budget holds a certain appeal.

Scott Mace

Scott Mace is the former senior technology editor for HealthLeaders Media. He is now the senior editor, custom content at H3.Group.


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