Dumbed-down versions. A company’s “free” version may indeed not require money out of pocket. But check the fine print: The free verion may offer access to only the most basic functions, with hidden fees looming if you’re looking to store more data or have access to sophisticated features like practice management, scheduling, billing, and patient portals. It’s critical that your software can handle all the special credentialing, reporting, and billing that comes with your specialty.
Ads, ads, ads. Some companies offer their software free – but pesky ads and toolbars constantly disrupt your work. You may be able to remove the ads – but it will cost you.
The concierge model. This is a version of pay-to-play in which patients pay to use the EHR. Do you really want to run a practice in which only patients who choose (or are willing) to pay for the EHR enjoy its benefits?
Data-mining. We’re all a bit more conscious these days of the need to lock down our security access on credit cards and social media accounts. But keep in mind that health data are also vulnerable. EHR companies are in a position to collect patient data – even protected health information – and sell it to third parties. Privacy and security violations could lead to HIPAA penalties. We advise you to read privacy policies carefully, so you don’t inadvertently authorize access to data.
Motivation. Developers of free apps don’t make money by continually perfecting them at a rapid pace. Their goal is to lure you in to purchasing a full version of the software. Don’t expect much focus on you and your needs.
Here are questions to ask when you evaluate a free EHR:
Will it do the job? Think through your entire workflow and make sure the software includes the features you need. Those might include charting, customizable templates, ePrescribing, lab integration, scheduling, referrals, patient portals, and revenue cycle management.
Will you also get free training and support? What happens once you sign on the dotted line? Most practices will need help setting up their systems. Even seasoned office staff run into glitches. Make sure you can get help when you need it. Consider what’s best for your unique workplace: in person group training, one-on-one sessions, or webinars? Troubleshooting during your work hours via email or phone?
Can the software handle your agency’s growth? Suppose you’re a small practice that merges with another practice, or a local clinic closure doubles your patient load. You need an EHR that can grow with you.
How about customization? No software solution for mental health and substance abuse agencies comes out of the box configured exactly the way you need it. Your agency has its own workflows, billing requirements, and compliance routines. That’s why you’ll want a team that works with you to get it all right, down the tiniest detail.
ClinicTracker, created to serve behavioral healthcare practices, prioritizes customization. We’ll help you streamline everything from intake to discharge, automating your workflow to help you run a more efficient and profitable practice. We keep up with industry changes, always updating features and adding functions to make your job easier. And that is, of course, the point of adopting a high-end EHR and practice management solution – to make your job as easy and successful as possible.
ClinicTracker is a robust, future-proof mental health and substance abuse EHR. Michael Gordon, a respected clinical psychologist, and Joshua Gordon, an award-winning software engineer, founded the company in 2000. ClinicTracker EHRs powerful software empowers your agency to succeed. ClinicTracker will automate many of your clinic routines, boost staff productivity, increase billing efficiency, and provide the tools you need to manage your clinic effectively. While mental health and substance abuse agencies are our main focus, our software is compatible with foster care agencies, social services, equine assisted therapy, university clinics, academic counseling, family counseling services, and eating disorder clinics.