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Feb 25, 2013

New EHR Rivalry May Lead to More High-Quality, Affordable Options

Perhaps you’ve heard of the free web-based Electronic Health Records (EHR) program Practice Fusion. It has a growing user base 150,000 medical professionals.

For several years, Practice Fusion has had a close partnership with the Medical Billing Software / Practice Management (PM) Software company Kareo (Unlike Practice Fusion, Kareo costs $299 per month, per doctoral-level user, and $149 a month for masters-level providers).

While this cost is still out of reach for some healthcare providers, it’s significantly more affordable than many of the other competitors in the space—many which have inflated their prices in response to the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (HITECH).

Under HITECH, qualified providers (Physicians, not Counselors) can receive up to $44,000 in Medicare bonus incentives if they demonstrate the “meaningful use” of an EHR system. Hence, many EHR companies have been using the $44,000 in incentives to justify exorbitant prices:
• Amazing Charts: $1999 per year for the first provider, $995 for each additional provider.
• All Scripts: $699 per month per doctoral-level provider, $474 for masters level.
• Soapware: $3000.00 per year, per provider.
• Praxis: $6995.00 per year for the first provider, $2995.00 for each additional provider.
• AdvancedMD: Nearly $1000 per month, per provider.
• CareCloud: $0.99 per transaction (client session). About $2500 setup fee.

Learn more in my previous article “Electronic Health Records (EHR) and in Today’s Private Counseling Practice.”

Kareo Shakes Things Up
Two days ago, Kareo announced the launch of their own free EHR program (see here), putting them in direct competition with Practice Fusion. Their EHR is said to seamlessly integrate with their Practice Management & Billing Software (a limitation of the Practice Fusion – Kareo partnership was that the two systems integrated, but not seamlessly), and also can be used from the iPhone and iPad.

Kareo’s announcement meant two things.
1) A new free EHR option for healthcare providers
2) The swift and complete destruction of their partnership with Practice Fusion.

Practice Fusion Email
Yesterday, Practice Fusion sent an email blast to their user base titled “Kareo Price Hikes.” The email announced the end of the Practice Fusion – Kareo Partnership, stating “Our original partnership with Kareo was specifically designed to bring you a low-cost billing solution, integrated with your EHR. We’re disappointed to see that this spirit has been lost due to the continued price hikes by Kareo.”

The email failed to explain in what way Kareo’s prices had increased. In addition, the email, not surprisingly, did not cite Kareo’s free EHR as a reason they were ending the partnership.

However, Practice Fusion did happen to mention that they intend to offer “major new enhancements” to their billing software options within the next month.

More Competition = Better Options for Counselors / Providers
This is great news for healthcare providers. More competition in the EHR and PM software space will mean better options and lower prices for end users.

If Kareo’s EHR is anything like almost every other EHR program that has come to market, then it’s likely to have a number of limitations and glitches at first. Still, both Kareo and Practice Fusion are companies to watch over the next few months. If their new rivalry creates enough noise, it will effect other competition as well. Expect more changes in price points, and software offerings.

Anthony Centore is a Counselor, is Private Practice Consultant for the ACA, and helps counseling practices across the US thrive. For more information on private practice and insurance panels go to

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1 Comment

  1. 1 Julie Sams 19 Feb
    Thanks so much for the information.  I would love to make the switch to EMR, but simply cant afford it at this point.  It's looking like things may change in the near future though!  Thats good news!


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