Practice Fusion was founded in 2005 to fill a widening gap in the burgeoning electronic medical records and medical billing industry that was leaving behind smaller, independent or under-served practices unable (or willing) to afford the fees charged by larger healthcare IT and electronic record technology firms catering to larger practices and hospitals. By offering a comprehensive, cloud-based array of EHR services at no charge to the provider clientele, and paid for entirely by well-placed advertising, the company’s popularity soared, growing to a user base of approximately 100,000 healthcare providers, and putting it just behind Allscripts in overall usage.
Practice Fusion’s popularity with its provider user base was indisputable: the company ranked among the top 10 ambulatory EHR vendors, as reported by Definitive Healthcare data. Reaction Data also reported positive user ratings: 75 percent of responding customers were satisfied overall with the company, and 70 percent were happy with the level of EHR technology offered. By contrast, Allscripts’ satisfaction ratings were a dismal 28 percent – down near the bottom.
Of course, it’s hard to not like something that’s free, but that would only have taken the company just so far if the software itself didn’t perform to user expectations while offering a large menu of tasks and options.
In January of 2018, a leading EHR vendor, Allscripts, announced the acquisition of its rival vendor Practice Fusion for the relatively miniscule amount (compared to their following and previous earnings) of $100 million. The acquisition follows a string of earlier purchases in 2017 by Allscripts of several EHR vendors, including that of McKesson Corporation’s Enterprise Information Solutions for $185 million. As of this writing, Allscripts claims they intend to continue offering Practice Fusion’s EHR servicing as a “complement” to Allscripts’ ambulatory clinical portfolio, becoming instead a “value offering” to accommodate those underserved and other clinicians in smaller, independent practices.
That’s the (sort of) good news.
What changes will take place following the purchase?
For those users who have enjoyed the free cloud-based EHR software services up to now, here’s the bad news: while the services will still be available, they will no longer be free. Just six weeks following the Allscripts purchase, Practice Fusion announced that, starting this summer, users will be charged a $100 monthly fee per physician for the services. For now, that seems like the only verifiable change, but if history teaches anything, there will likely be more to come. Still, compared to the fees charged by many larger IT companies, $100 a month does not seem so bad.
What other options for EHR vendors and solutions exist for smaller practices?
Even before the sale, not everyone found that Practice Fusion met their needs or expectations, making it necessary to find comparable alternatives. While the popular program was evaluated with a 9.2 score and 95% user satisfaction rate, Finances Online’s panel of independent experts recommends the following programs as alternatives to Practice Fusion:
- TherapyNotes – An online practice management system for behavioral health practice management for scheduling, billing and notes: Scored at 9.0, with 100% user satisfaction.
- NueMD – A medical practice solution that handles claims and reimbursements quickly, streamlining the billing process. NueMD scored at 8.0, with 100% user satisfaction.
- Yocale – This scheduling and appointment-management app received a score of 8.1 and 100% user satisfaction.
Additional best-competitors in customer satisfaction: NextGen, NextTech, McKesson (also purchased by Allscripts in 2017) and Kareo all scored well in independent reviews.
How can practices determine which vendor or program is the best choice?
Each practice, even within the same specialty has its unique needs and challenges. Here are a few tips on selecting an EHR software program that works best for you, as well as a side-by-side comparison of Practice Fusion and Allscripts.
- First, does the software address your organization’s specific needs?
- What is the company’s overall satisfaction rate from similar practices?
- If possible, speak with an actual user of the software or system to get their feedback and opinion: would they buy again or are they looking to switch to a different system or vendor?
- According to FinancesOnline, the following companies offered top-rated software in the Medical Practice Management category:
- Cerner EMR
- Practice Fusion – (this evaluation was made prior to the purchase by Allscripts)
It remains to be seen whether following the sale of Practice Fusion to Allscripts, the company will retain its strong following or whether due to soon-to-be implemented user fees as well as any changes to the software itself will drive away at least some customers. Some other EHR cloud-based vendors, such as CareCloud’s CEO Ken Comee, believe that the move away from free software could open the independent-physician markets to more competition, as providers may consider other options.
How could working with a medical billing and practice management service help?
In evaluating a medical practice management service, the same above criteria applies: meeting your needs, a good value for the price paid, affordable and reliable. Here’s how M-Scribe meets that criteria:
Healthcare Business Intelligence (BI) offers information solutions
The need for practice-specific tools and other resources to apply solutions to information collection, organization, integration and analysis has created the need for Business Intelligence solutions, making operational data and other critical information more readily available in daily decision making.
Quality documentation boosts reimbursement
Accurate documentation in billing and coding ensures compliance with government and industry regulations is necessary for good practice management. M-Scribe is able to work with most brands of software, whether Practice Management (PM) or Electronic Health Records (EHR), serving a wide range of client practices from small solo practices to larger multi-specialty organizations. Working with an experienced, full-service billing and practice management company can boost collection and reimbursement rates, which could help offset any vendor’s rate increases.
Programs designed for your practice
M-Scribe has partnered with many EHRs and Practice Management companies to offer our medical practice clients a huge discounts to provide the software of their choice. You can choose any EHR or PM software and ask for a discount from our sales associates before finalizing a deal with your chosen vendor.
Contact M-Scribe at 770-666-0470 or email for a confidential, no-cost analysis of your practice’s needs and learn how we can save your practice money, time and peace of mind.