Practice Fusion EMR Brings Patients Into The Picture

Practice Fusion was one of the first free, advertising supported, cloud-based EMR to enter the market and has likely been the loudest proponent of free EMR software. Although, they have some interesting Free EMR competitors like Mitochon and Kareo. Since 2007, Practice Fusion has focused on offering unfettered access to its product in exchange for physicians being willing to accept advertisements relevant to the health records they’re using and the aggregate use of the EHR data.

The company, which has raked in venture capital in buckets since its founding, now says it has 150,000 healthcare providers using its EMR and records on 60 million patients, according to a piece in The New York Times.

Now, the company has taken another step in its free-for-all model with a new service it calls Patient Fusion. Patient Fusion is a new service which allows patients using the system to schedule appointments with any participating doctor who uses the EMR. It also allows patients to rate the doctors in question and to access their records with permission. So far, 27,000 of Practice Fusion’s EMR users have signed up for the service, the Times reports.

The Times columnist covering this announcement speculates that Practice Fusion has launched its new product as a means of building up patient traffic, but I don’t see how that would work. Patients may see more of their records, but this won’t necessarily do anything to increase the number of doctor-based views the network can sell to lab companies and pharmas.

On the other hand, Patient Fusion could prove to be a powerful way of attracting and keeping doctors who want to offer easy-to-administer appointment scheduling to patients. Also, getting patients engaged with their medical records is very much in the spirit of Meaningful Use and the ONC’s priorities generally, so this new patient feature could be a beacon for doctors going through MU-motivated EMR switching this year.

Bottom line, this seems like a nifty idea. I predict that most of Practice Fusion’s EMR customers will sign up over the next year or so.

About the author

Anne Zieger

Anne Zieger

Anne Zieger is a healthcare journalist who has written about the industry for 30 years. Her work has appeared in all of the leading healthcare industry publications, and she's served as editor in chief of several healthcare B2B sites.

4 Comments

  • They had announced the patient scheduling tool some weeks ago, to the relief of many doctors (and their patients) who either had no online scheduling tool or one that was not linked to PF. Now if I understand what you said about patient data sharing, they earlier had a way for doctor’s to send each other some data (as I recall), but this is a huge step upwards. This gives lots of small practices a reason to use PF in a given region, the idea that patients who allow it know that each of their PF using doctors will have their up to date records. Only problem I see is that they waited so long to do this that many doctors have already picked an EHR, thus reducing the possibilities of a given patient having multiple doctors in the system.

    I wonder what they are doing in terms of sharing data over a HIE.

    Ron

  • Though the price tag of PF would seem to make it an appealing EMR choice, the fact that PF completely ignores the repeated requests for manual entry of discrete lab values. It offers only integration with outside lab companies. Any practice that does any labs in house will find no lab tables in PF for that locally generated data.
    Unfortunate…

  • I guess the same would apply to labs that are simply not in PF. Surprising they don’t let you put your own results in (provider) in a viable retrievable format. Too bad. But they do seem open to improvements.

  • As the request for local user accessible lab tables has been made and repeated numerous times by numerous separate entities since the beginning of this product availability, (and met with the same smug snub) I am not to hopeful about the possible addition of this feature, though I would certainly welcome it.

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