Why a Free EHR Isn’t Always Free

Have you ever heard the idiom, “there’s no such thing as a free puppy”? Free is a hard price to beat, but at what cost? Here is what you should consider when comparing a free EHR to a subscription-based EHR.

1. Service and support
Do you have access to phone and email support? Does support respond in a timely manner? What are the training options? Subscription-based EHRs will often offer unlimited support and one-on-one training. This personalized help will ensure that you use the EHR in the most efficient way and utilize all the tools it has to offer, minimizing mistakes and increasing efficiency. And because many subscription-based EHRs focus on one specialty, trainers and support staff have domain expertise you can’t find at the free EHRs.

2. Efficiency
Behavioral health care is a specialized service. Free EHRs are not representative of the documentation and workflows unique to behavioral health care. Navigating through screens and fields that don’t pertain to your services is cumbersome and time consuming. A free EHR starts to cost you money when you have to spend more time documenting sessions and less time with patients.

3. Scalability
Some of the shortcomings and inefficiencies of free EHRs may be manageable with a small patient load, but what about when your practice grows? The inefficiencies you experience will pile up and require more customizations or workarounds to manage, introducing both obvious and hidden costs to your growing business. As your practice demands more services and support, such as practice management software, free EHRs will often charge for additional features.

A free EHR might seem glamorous at first, but you end up paying for it in different ways. Maintaining smooth, efficient workflows, increasing billable hours with patients, and accommodating business growth are considerable value propositions that should never be discounted in the interest of reducing overhead. An EHR affects almost every aspect of your business, so it is important to select your EHR based on the best return on investment (ROI)—not just the upfront costs.

Contact a Valant representative to learn more about Valant’s ROI for behavioral health practices.


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