Epocrates EHR Should be Free

Posted on September 14, 2011 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

I came across this article on Lab Soft News (he does great work) that talked about some Ethical Questions that related to Epocrates recently launched EHR software and their existing pharmaceutical relationships. Here’s one section from the post:

Very distressing to me, however, is the clear link of the company [Epocrates], and its software, to the pharmaceutical industry. … I have also reluctantly come to the conclusion that even apparently trivial advertising connections to Big Pharma can lead to mischief. I had previously thought that inconspicuous advertisements in EMRs by drug companies might be tolerated if the companies were to bear the costs of these systems. I now believe that allowing these companies even a tangential relationship to physician-office electronic medical records is too risky.

I’ll leave the highly discussed topic of pharmaceutical influence for another post and the comments section. However, when I read this I couldn’t help but wonder why Epocrates isn’t offering a Free EHR.

If you think about most Free EHR models, one of the core revenue paths is through advertising. Let’s not kid ourselves here. When they talk advertising, they’re talking about pharmacy ads. Sure, they might sell some other ads, but the majority of the big dollars for EMR advertising is from pharmaceutical companies.

With this understanding, doesn’t that mean that Epocrates relationships with these pharmaceutical companies would be perfectly positioned to execute on the Free EHR model?

I just checked the Epocrates EHR pricing page and it has the pricing as a $359 monthly subscription per seat. It’s also interesting that they’ve chosen to integrate with Nuesoft’s PMS which will cost $200/month per seat. They also require the purchase of the Epocrates EHR Quick Start Package. Not sure the cost on that. Sounds a bit pricey to me, but that’s a topic for another post.

I keep asking myself as I’m writing this post, Epocrates is perfectly positioned to execute the Free EHR Pharma advertising model and yet for some reason they’ve chosen not to do it. Remember, Epocrates has been executing the free software for Pharma advertising for a long time. Why did they choose not to do the same model with their EHR? Do they know something we don’t know?

I don’t know the answer to these questions, but I’m sure to ask them next time I see them. Maybe they’ll be at AHIMA or MGMA.