Practice Fusion is a Web-based software application that allows physicians to store patient’s medical records and manage scheduling online. The basic software system is completely free, though the company offers a $50/month tech support option. Practice Fusion can offer its software for free by allowing banner ads to run alongside a physician’s calendar and patient records.
For physicians, the company’s offerings are a low-cost alternative to traditional on-site software systems, which often require on-site consultants for setup and maintenance in addition to regular licensing fees. Practice Fusion guarantees bank-level security encryption, and hosts all its physicians’ data on offsite servers. Patients may be a little weary about privacy (after all, medical records are being let loose into “the cloud”), though fears are relatively unjustified.
The bigger concern is over whether or not its really ethical to have targeted advertisements running alongside a patient’s medical records. The basic idea is that if a patient, John, has a history of asthma, ads for asthma-related medications could pop up when John’s physician is accessing his records. Is the physician more likely to choose a certain brand or course of treatment because of this ad exposure? Physicians deny that the ads will have any impact – they’re already bombarded by countless Pharma-branded office supplies and products – but it’s hard to say for sure. Either way – it’s fascinating to see a company using an advertising model in such a new arena. Learn more at Practice Fusion and The New York Times.