Practice Fusion expands, shows signs of rapid growth

Practice Fusion, a company that provides free online electronic health records to physicians, announced last week it will partner with Physician Services, Inc. (PSI) of California and Azalea Health Innovations, Inc. of Georgia to expand the types of services available to its clients.

According to Ryan Howard, CEO of the San Francisco-based Practice Fusion, the company is on target to be one of the fastest growing electronic medical record (EMR) vendors in the country, with close to 100 physicians signed up since the launch of the service two months ago.

Ryan attributes the growth to a special “Live in Five” process, which allows new clients to be provisioned, logged on and charting within five minutes.

“We have changed the experience of EMR selection and made the decision process and start-up much easier, and as a result we are becoming the de facto standard for small to medium sized physician practices,” Howard said. Physicians benefit through low total cost of adoption, a simplified start up process and on-demand architecture that makes the whole process low-risk, he added.

{This story illustrates the most common way electronic health records systems make money: by stealing and selling YOUR data. Ryan Howard, the CEO of Practice Fusion, is quoted as saying, ”Every healthcare vendor is selling data. Everyone has this data, but we’ll have more of it and it will be real-time and aggregated.” Practice Fusion subsidizes its free EMRs by selling de-identified data to insurance groups, clinical researchers and pharmaceutical companies and by placing medically relevant ads within the EMRs, Howard said. Howard clearly cares nothing for consumers’ rights to privacy. Although the information sold is supposedly “de-identifed”, it is very easy to re-identify health data, endangering consumers’ future opportunities for jobs, credit, and insurance. What is really disturbing is that the doctors who use the cheap ($50/month) Practice Fusion software apparently do not realize they too are violating their patients’ privacy rights under strong state law, common law, tort law, and medical ethics. Physicians are required to obtain informed consent before disclosing patient health information. Do these doctors ask their patients’ consent before Practice Fusion data mines and sells their health data? It seems unlikely. ~ Dr. Deborah Peel, Patient Privacy Rights}

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  1. What are the ETHICAL issues raised by Practice Fusion. Does the use of their free, advertising support Electronic Medical Record services possibly negatively impact physician effectiveness? For example, is it possible to study the impact of advertisi…

    Consider some press articles about Practice Fusion and various comments on those articles which raises ethics questions. There is quite a bit more emphasis on the ethics of data ownership (and the mandatory (?) release of de-individualized data). http:…

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