Is Free Dental EHR (Electronic Health Record) software the right fit for your dental practice?
Electronic Health Records and dental practice management software have proven to be far too expensive for many dental care providers with their heavy setup and maintenance costs.
While cloud-based records systems are less costly than traditional electronic health records programs, the monthly servers costs are still prohibitive, especially for smaller dental practices. It makes sense that free practice management software has gained popularity despite the many drawbacks to such uncertified systems.
However free is not now or never has been anything but too good to be true. The software company has to make a return on their investment and if dentists are not being charged, then the profits must come from somewhere else. How can a few such companies afford to give away their software when others typically charge hefty fees for their services?
When free is not really free
Free software systems typically insert ads in the user interface, which are paid for by their advertisers. Since most doctors use these systems for up to 8 hours a day, companies are willing to pay a lot of money to display such ads. They can be distracting to users, reducing their concentration and taking focus away from the patient.
As in the case of many “free” consumer services, you never know if the vendor is selling your patients’ sensitive health data. If the management software is not HIPAA compliant, then it may even cause legal trouble for your practice. Your patients should also be considered when deciding between free or paid software. Would they be comfortable knowing that you are using a free dental software? Chances are you would lose many patients’ trust.
The most valuable metric for ad-supported businesses is the number of active daily users. In many instances, free electronic health record software does not offer a way for dentists to extract all their patient data in case of an emergency or if they’d like to switch to a different software. Others even charge your patients for the ability to use patient portals or schedule a dental appointment online. Leveraging your free electronic health record system with hidden costs to your patients is not a great way to build a practice currently.
Integral portions of your software may be sectioned off as only available with a paid subscription. Often other portions remain a mystery since there is no active training available from the company supplying your software. With your dental record software of concern to you as the provider what things are you considering when making your choice?
As you can see, a free EHR and dental practice management software needs not be completely free. The investment into training and support for you and your staff is unavoidable. Experiencing losses in your patient’s satisfaction will be more than the monthly price of any reasonable subscription based software on the market today. It is always important to know that the software vendor you choose has a viable business model for the long term before you invest time and money in their software’s integrations into your office.