What Four-Letter Word Does Everyone Love?

When you see it, you stop and look. You get excited. The promise in that word is too good to pass up. What four letters captivate us every time we see them? F-R-E-E.

But is “free” really free? I remember an ad offering dinner and a movie for free with any test drive. As a young couple, my wife and I decided to give it a try. We went for the test drive, and after every manager in the car lot tried to get us to buy the car, we left upset and without our dinner and movie tickets. Excitement at the prospect of free stuff quickly dies down when the words “If it’s too good to be true, then it probably is” come to mind. Yet we continue to pursue these “limited-time” opportunities.

”Free” is now affecting many physician practices as they filter through hundreds of options when looking to implement EMRs and other IT solutions. The thought of being able to move a practice from paper to an electronic system or of replacing an existing EMR for free is very enticing. But I feel some questions have to be asked: If a system is truly free, how long can the vendor be expected to stay in business? What kind of service can be expected if something breaks? Do users need to purchase a PM system? Is there a gotcha?

When we get something for free, do we lower our expectations around what that thing should do for us? Is it really possible to get something wonderful for nothing? The idea that we might as well give free things a try is fine when considering a smartphone app, but what about when dealing with people’s lives?

KLAS has interviewed hundreds of physician practices to find out which ambulatory EMR vendors are performing the best according to their customers. To see the results, click here.

If you are using a free or paid-for EMR, we’d love to hear your perspective. Help us understand whether “free” is truly free and whether the paid-for systems are worth the cost.

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