Electronic Medical Records (EMR) Software help medical practices efficiently manage, record, and organize medical data of their patients and automate the clinical and administrative tasks of the clinic. However, these EMR Systems are way too expensive and can cost thousands of dollars, which is not affordable by most of the smaller practices. Therefore, a lot of vendors started offering ‘Free’ versions of these software systems. These Free EMR Software are just as functional as their paid counterparts and offer a wide range of features. But are these so-called ‘Free’ EMR Software Solution really free and charge absolutely nothing? This point is quite debatable.

While economists argue that there exists no free trade, and everything comes at an expense of some other thing, this rule applies just the same to Electronic Health Records (EHR) Software. Monetarily, these systems might not charge you anything, but in terms of data and user experience, the cost to use these free software solutions is not zero.

Types of Free EMR Software

There are at least three flavors of Free EHR Software currently being used by physicians across the US. These are briefly discussed below to give you an idea of how they work and what do they really cost.

1. Open Source EMR Software

When you select an Open Source EMR Software, you get complete ownership of all the code of the software under the General Public License. This license gives you the freedom to customize and change the software according to your requirements. Although an Open Source EMR Software does not have any license cost, the cost to customize the software and implement it across the practice can still be really significant. In fact, research shows that on an average, an Open Source EMR can save you only 20% of the full cost as compared to a paid EHR Software.

2. Free Version of Paid Software

Many vendors offering paid EMR Software provide their Free versions which do not offer complete functionality although are good enough to handle some basic tasks. But the catch here is that the costs involve in implementing these free EMR Software puts them in the same price range as the non-free EMR Software. 

3. Commercial EMR Software

These are the last type of Free EMR Software in the market. Most of these EHR Systems are supported by advertisements and often charge some fixed or monthly amount to remove all the ads from the software. Another way these software work is that they have access to all your patient data in an anonymous form and can use this data according to set terms and conditions.