As much as I want it to be, I know SeriousMD is not going to be what every doctor wants.
Sure, the idea of having one medical records system is ideal rather than a segmented mess of different softwares like what has already happened in other countries, but I know that it’s impossible to please everybody. No product out there can do that and that was actually the topic of a talk I did recently.
There are doctors that will just want his own personal database, and that’s it. Some will never eeeeeeever trust data being stored outside their own USB drive. Some will just want a way to keep pictures. With all the features, benefits and things you can do inside of SeriousMD, for some, they might just want 1 thing.
This post is going to be about the possible SeriousMD alternatives and I’ll list down the pros and cons as well.
The “Not Really an EMR System”
You know these kinds of softwares. You’ve probably used them already.
For some doctors, using the built-in Notes app on their iPhone is already good enough. They create a new note and give it the patient’s name. Add all consult data there and you’re done.
I’ve met resourceful doctors that would use an app like the My Medical app, which was built for storing family member medical records and used it for his patients. Some doctors would even use Evernote, similar to how the Notes app above is used.
- Positives Ultra Simple. Save text notes and some can accept images.
- Weaknesses Used Solo, so you won’t be using it in tandem with your staff. Limited or no updates, no databases of HMOs/Drugs/Etc., may or may not be able to store images. Printing out prescriptions may or may not be possible.Data will be mainly unstructured, which means it won’t be possible to do reports.
- Privacy/Security Many are encrypted. Backups are done manually. DPA phase 2 = not outsourcing so you’ll have to be clear with how you secure the data.
- Hardware Costs Computer or Mobile Phone (Use existing or Php 25k+)
- Software Cost $4.99 – $20 Per License or $8+ Per Month
Some doctors are in love with spreadsheets, so they use Microsoft Excel or Numbers on Mac to keep track of all patient records.
I’ve met doctors that built their own databases inside Filemaker Pro or to a lesser extent, on an outdated app like Bento.
For doctors that want to build their own forms (let’s face it, doctors love their forms) then TapForms is one app that is used for that.
- Positives Your forms, your way. You’ll be able to print prescriptions, but it will need some trial and error. Data is structured for the most part.
- Weaknesses Solo access. It takes setup to get started and will be an ongoing project. No built-in databases for drugs/HMOs/labs etc.
- Privacy/Security Manual backups. Some level of security. DPA phase 2 = not outsourcing.
- Hardware Costs Computer or Mobile Phone (Use existing or Php 25k+)
- Software Cost $50 one time or up to $100/year for MS Office
The Legacy Systems
EMR providers have been around for decades now. EMR’s aren’t just something that was invented a few years ago. That’s why there are legacy systems out there that are still being used today by doctors.
Usually because they’ve been using it for so long and they don’t really want to change and update it anymore.
When I see these systems, I feel like it’s a crime to even use these in today’s world LOL.
- Positives It works. Sort of structured data.
- Weaknesses Too customised. Functionality over design for sure. Built for old systems and hardwares so there will be a limit to the size it can store and it eventually slows down once it hits 1000 patients or so. Updates are harder or virtually non-existent. Reports will depend on the vendor. Offline only so it will be staying in 1 of your clinics.
- Privacy/Security Most are not encrypted. Backups are done manually. DPA phase 2 = not outsourcing.
- Hardware Costs 2 Computers (Use existing or Php 40,000+) + network setup to connect the computers (around Php 4,000+)
- Software Cost Php 40,000 – Php 300,000+ including setup fees. Maintenance fees are excluded.
Some doctors have a lot of moolah to burn especially if they think it can help speed them up and also if they are lucky enough to know somebody that can actually have the time to build the EMR for them.
Though few, I’ve seen my share of custom made EMR systems here in the Philippines. It’s usually some open source EMR system or an open source ERP system that was converted with medical terms. The key here is if you can find the right developer and in this case, it’s usually a 1-2 man operation, which means it will need months to build and hopefully, you could retain the services of the developer after the software is turned over to you because there will be bugs and a lot of improvements that you need to make.
- Positives It’s your system. Your forms, your way. You control the design. You control what should show up.
- Weaknesses Most likely offline only. You’ll have to experiment with the people you hire. Possibility of losing the programmer and losing control of your software.
- Privacy/Security Not encrypted. Backups are done manually. DPA phase 2 = not outsourcing.
- Hardware Costs 2 Computers (Use existing or Php 40,000+)
- Software Cost Php 80,000 – Php 500,000++ (Yes, it’s not cheap to make software, let alone hire legitimate developers and designers)
“Software As A Service” (SaaS)
There are a ton of types of SaaS out there. It’s not really just one type. This is really the future of software. On-demand access with flexible yet secure storage of your data.
The differences start with the goal of the SaaS company.
Was it primarily built to manage the practice? Apps like Cliniko and Janeapp. Is it built with the medical records, notes and physician productivity in mind? That’s where SeriousMD started with.
Another thing: do they value their interface? The design matters a lot because no software wants to be the reason for the physician burning out.
A lot of talk has been pointing to EMR’s being the cause of physician burnout in other countries. I can’t agree with that 100% because you have to look at the government and insurance companies first. They are imposing the requirements and the software companies are implementing what they could as soon as possible to comply. So it’s vital that you look into the style and how the EMR company values design.
Positives Accessible. Many are designed well or continuing to improve the design. Structures notes. Ongoing updates. Role-based access so you can use it with all your staff.
Weaknesses Internet, especially in countries with internet issues like the Philippines. Not as customizable. Databases rely on country it was made for.
Privacy/Security Many are encrypted. Backups are automatic. DPA phase 2 = outsourcing. Ask if they are registered with NPC.
Hardware Costs Computer or Mobile Phone (Use existing or at least Php 25k++)
Software Cost Free (I would advise that you look into why it’s free, it’s most likely because they sell your data) or as cheap as Php 1000 – Php 12,000++ per month (Plus Monthly Internet) – there’s usually no one time, big time set up fee as well for most vendors.
I’ve discussed practically every type of EMR software you will see out there.
Here’s my last tip when it comes to picking the right software for your medical practice: Personally, besides the main function of how I’ll use the EMR software, I’d look at the ROI (return on investment) and if I’ll “enjoy” using the system.
Pricing is always an issue, no matter what. We know the reality, especially here in the Philippines. Doctors are showered by the pharma companies with free stuff and food every single day. I’m just being honest here. So with a system like that, it’s fair to say that some doctors will not even be open to using an EMR simply because of cost, which is why I think ROI is something that’s very important.
Can you see more patients? Does it lower the chances of patients not showing up? Do you spend less time typing and more time with the actual patient? What’s the financial standing of the practice? Does it lessen time you spend compared to doing regular old paper records? Can I easily generate reports that takes so much of my time?
Lastly, does it save you more time? Can you even put a price on that?
I also put value if I would “enjoy” using the software mainly because you’ll be using it for years to come, even until you retire. I’m typing this blog article using a software called Scrivener. I’ve been using it for years because I enjoy using it and I don’t really enjoy using MS Word because it sucks. When it comes to the EMR for your practice, you need to enjoy using it.
That leads to you learning more about the software and actually optimizing your workflow which leads you to better productivity and again, that means more free time. Time for your patients, your side businesses, your hobbies and your family.
Yes, picking the right software can really change your life.