Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Talk About A Sense Of Déjà Vu. Australia Has Certainly Seen This Before. It Ultimately Ended Badly For The Provider Involved In Australia.

The following appeared a few days ago:

Should cash-strapped small practices turn to ad-supported EHRs?

Author Name Jennifer Bresnick   |   Date January 22, 2013   |  
Advertising is everywhere.  From your smartphone apps to your radio station to this very article, ads pay the bills for your favorite news outlets, entertainment destinations, and websites.  Sometimes they’re annoying, and sometimes they alert you to a useful product or service you might not otherwise find.  But should they be integrated into your EHR?  With implementation costs soaring into the tens of thousands and no immediate return on such a massive investment, many physicians are saying yes.
The market for EHR advertising revolves around cloud-based services, since advertisers need an internet connection to push ads into their product.  With 41% of physicians using cloud services, the market is robust and growing.  “Advertising is a natural fit in the healthcare sector,” Bill Jennings, CEO of Good Health Media told Practice Fusion, one of the leading ad-based EHRs. “Doctors get it; they’re comfortable with discreet advertising inside their medical practice. The advertising programs give a small medical practice the chance to add a time-saving, life-saving technology solution – for free. It’s a benefit for the advertiser, the doctor and the patient.”
EHR advertising is desirable to large pharmaceutical companies because there’s a high likelihood that the person observing the ad will be a physician.  Physicians spend the most time with EHRs, and are also the decision-makers when it comes to writing prescriptions for brand-name products.  Zach Gursky, VP of sales for Practice Fusion, told American Medical News that 85% of major pharmaceutical companies are running ads with the free service as a result of an explosion of interest over the past year and a half.  Gursky asserts that physicians are finding value in the ads due to the fact that they are highly targeted to them and the types of patients that they treat.
They are also finding value in the fact that web-based EHR systems require little to no cash output in order to use.  Small practices without a large surplus budget for technology upgrades can use certain free EHRs to attest to meaningful use and receive financial incentives from CMS.  These providers don’t need to worry about ongoing maintenance, software upgrades, or an in-house IT staff, which becomes a very attractive prospect.
Lots more here:
For those who don’t remember we used to have Pharma ads in Medical Director (MD) and this reduced the price of the software and support. The net effect was a near monopoly.
It was then realised by the profession that the Pharma companies would only be paying if they were making money out of the ads and that this was probably distorting ethical prescribing in the direction of profit and commercial interests.
Gradually antipathy to the whole business grew and eventually MD was forced to give up the sponsorship funds. This levelled the GP system playing field and allowed some real innovation to commence. In the long term this meant MD lost significant market share.
The lesson is that things that are ‘free’ may not turn out to be in the longer run. Certainly GP computing in Australia was not helped by the artificially distorted market in my view.
The US would be wise to nip this trend in the bud.

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