Is Practice Fusion the next victim?Why should you care?

"Not good enough to pay for," a physician client told me in a recent conversation regarding Practice Fusion. The old cliché, “You get what you pay for,” is true after all!

I have been talking with a lot of practices and physicians who use Practice Fusion as their electronic medical records system. After the recent announcement Practice Fusion is being acquired by Allscripts, clients received notifications Practice Fusion will no longer be free.

From the practice and physicians’ perspective, the main and perhaps only attraction of Practice Fusion was that it was a free system. For most practices, it served its purpose, allowing them to be compliant with meaningful use and even receive incentive money.

The question is, if this system worked for doctors in the past, why are they looking to switch? After all, they are used to the system, and change is never easy. I'm not saying everybody will switch, but I suspect a majority of practices have started looking for cheaper or more stable alternatives.

The Acquiring Company Is Allscripts;
What Does That Mean for the Future of Practice Fusion?

Look at the history of Allscripts with respect to acquisitions. Their journey started with a merger with Misys in 2008. Since then, they have had a number of acquisitions including Myway, Eclipsys, Medinotes, DB motion, Jardogs, etc.

In most cases, these products have eventually withered away. Allscripts tried to move their customers onto their main platform of choice. Practices suffered.

Allscripts’ most recent acquisition before Practice Fusion was McKesson. With all these islands of technology and Allscripts’ trying to achieve economies of scale, it is nearly impossible to maintain and keep them all alive and thriving at the same time.

At one point, Practice Fusion was the darling of the industry. So many investors got in, it was worth $1.5 billion. In the end, Allscripts got the company for a measly $100 million. That should tell any provider remotely considering sticking with Practice Fusion that it is time to abandon the sinking system.

I can see the writing on the wall—or my blog just a few short years from today—Allscripts is sunsetting Practice Fusion and doctors won’t be riding into the sunset with it.

Choosing EHR / EMR Vendor - Importance of Claims Processing Stability

I got an email this morning from someone that complained about an issue that never comes up during the EMR selection process. Here's what he wrote, 'current practice management solution has switched who it uses for claims processing many times because of contract issues. '

When you research your system, you generally don't ask these questions. At the best, you (of your biller) may ask who is the Clearing house, just to make sure it is a good reputable company.

The EMR industry is under so much pressure that all kinds of things are happening. Vendors are cutting costs, cutting services and you will notice 'shortcuts' that can affect you. Here are some situations that can have prompted this -

  • A complete system is quite often built with partnerships. One such partnership is with a Clearinghouse to process your claims. Vendors strike deals and negotiate pricing. In doing so, sometimes promises are made that EMR companies cannot keep in terms of volume sales. When that happens, clearinghouse wants to raise prices, renegotiates contracts that can have direct repercussions on client pricing.
  • A worse case scenario is one where your vendors switch partners. If they bring in a less than desirable partner for claims processing, your cash flow can be severely affected. Just as there are 'Free EMR' companies, there are 'Free Clearinghouses'. Even paid EMR vendors sometimes use Free Clearinghouses because of pricing pressures.

Two quick questions can resolve that.

  1. Who is the clearinghouse partner? Make sure it is someone like Gateway EDI, or similar company that is stable and has been around, and has a good reputation.
  2. How long has the EMR company been in partnership with them? Is this the only clearinghouse they use, or do they partner with others also? If so, who are the others?

In short, unfortunately, this is one more thing you must have on your list to ask your EMR vendor.