When searching for software, almost everyone looks for free ones. If you simply type in the name of any random software, you’ll probably see a google autocomplete suggestion “free download”. In some cases, it does make a lot of sense in using free software. Why pay for something when you can get it for free? 

Searches for downloading free EMR software have increased with government legislation mandating their use in hospitals. Let us look into why this is a bad idea.

If you’re not paying for it, you’re the product

As a general rule, nobody ever gives you something for free. As economists would say, “If you’re not paying for the product, you are the product”. In the case of most free software, this is the case. Recently it was found that most of the free antivirus apps in the Google Play store actually did nothing. Their purpose? Probably to collect data from your device. This may not affect an average person very much, but if you’re concerned about privacy, you should probably stay away from these software. And when you’re dealing with a hospital management software, this is a key aspect. Data security is a very important aspect especially when you handle patient data. A data leak, however small has the potential to damage the reputation of your hospital. 

Lack of accountability

A hospital management system has to have certain qualifications that assure you that a particular software can fit your needs. When you purchase a software, it is possible for you to verify if these software fit the criteria. But when you download a software for free, there is no way for you to be sure if these software fit the criteria. And since there is no monetary transaction between you and the software provider, it will be difficult to hold them accountable. 

The lack of accountability will be an issue if the software faces any glitches. If the software crashes, customer support is not provided for the system, and you will be on your own. A software glitch in a free android app may be annoying, and will not cause any huge problems even if is not resolved. In case of a hospital, the software handles sensitive patient information and a software glitch can compromise this data, and with no tech support from the providers, it can cause a lot of problems. 

Upgrades? Nope

As government regulations change, and as the technology improves, you may face the need for a better software. If you’re relying on a free software for very important tasks, such as managing your hospital, you may find yourself stuck with an old software. Free software rarely provide any upgrades for long durations. And when you want an upgrade, you may find yourself searching for a new software, and you’ll have to import the existing data into the new software which will require additional resources. 

The story of the open source software

A commonly trusted free software are the open source software. Ubuntu is an example of an open source software. They are usually made by developers across the world, and their source code is available for free, and you’re free to change or modify the code as you wish. Since the source code is available for everyone, it is unlikely that the software can have malicious intents. And as long as the developers continue to improve the software, it will remain up to date with the required features. Open source software appears to offer a very good deal, and they do, in the case of most of the software. But in the case of a hospital management system, it is never a good idea to use an open source software. This is because of a combination of reasons discussed above. First of all, there are no hospital management software with the kind of community that a software like Ubuntu has. If you face any issues, you’re on your own. In the case of popular softwares, there may be forums in which users can discuss issues, and they may get resolved. But for a hospital management software, there are no such forums, and when you’re managing a hospital, you cannot afford to wait for a solution that may never come. And as we discussed, updates will be available for open source software only as long as the developers are working on the project.

What about the free trials?

If you have been looking for free HMS downloads, you may have come across many SaaS healthcare companies offering lite or trial versions of their software for free, or maybe the complete version of their software, but for a limited time period. These software are generally secure and will be much more robust than software from other software providers. They may even offer regular updates. But remember that these trial versions are just for that. They will be severely limited in their capabilities, and you will definitely have to upgrade at some point. And the providers may not provide tech support if you’re using the free version. But they do provide an easy way to evaluate a software and if available, they serve as a demo for the complete version. 

Lack of customization

Generally across hospitals, or even across departments, there are no uniform workflow. Each department head has their own workflows, and this is the reason why hospital management systems are highly customized. But such customization is not at all possible in a hospital management system, and if implemented, could affect the functioning of the hospital and may prove to be counterproductive. 

To know more about hospital management software, visit MocDoc

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The healthcare sector is facing pressure to move to digital systems, both from regulatory authorities and from the general public. Government is pushing for digital systems so as to make the functioning of hospitals and other health care systems more transparent. The public is becoming more aware of their healthcare requirements and options and is demanding more efficient and accessible healthcare systems, and the healthcare providers are becoming more aware of this need. Many healthcare IT firms are trying to fulfill this need, and are providing a variety of software service. Let’s try to understand the different types of healthcare software used by various healthcare providers.


Electronic health records or EHRs are used for storing patient information in a digital manner. It is used by hospitals and clinics to store the complete medical history of a patient. Government health regulators in many countries are moving forward with plans to make electronic health records mandatory.

These records provide a secure and easily accessible way of storing medical records compared to paper-based records. Electronic records do not have the risk of loss of medical history or being illegible or destroyed over a long period of time. It also prevents duplication of medical records, since there is only one file which is modified over time.

Electronic health record software is used in both clinics and hospitals, and usually comes integrated with hospital management software and practice management software.

Practice management software ( PMS)

Practise management software or clinic management software are used for managing clinics. Depending on the requirement of the clinic, software with various combinations of features are available. Generally they contain appointment management, billing, electronic health records. Software with integrated lab and pharmacy management features are also available if there are labs or pharmacies associated with the clinic. A practice management software helps to streamline the workflow of a clinic, gets error-free documentation, manage appointments and billing and make the system more efficient.

Specialized systems are available for dental care, ophthalmology, and other specialty clinics, with customized prescription management and health records.

Queues in the clinic can also be managed by the system, either on the basis of tokens or on the basis of appointments

Hospital management system ( HMS )

Hospital management system has almost all the features described above, and more. They are a fully integrated system capable of managing the entire hospital. They are capable of managing appointments and electronic health records for both inpatient and outpatient departments. They are used for managing doctors’ schedules, surgeries, other procedures, and all the aspects related to them. They are also capable of handling the labs and pharmacies attached to the hospitals. The HMS systems can also manage the rooms, marking rooms as occupied, unoccupied, undergoing maintenance, etc, making it easy to allocate rooms and beds for patients.  

Hospital management systems are often linked to the websites of the hospitals and patients can use it to book their appointments, get access to their health records and treatment plans, and manage their prescriptions. These days they also come with apps for patients which aids the patients in these same tasks much more easily through their smartphones. Alerts are provided through SMS services for follow up procedures, vaccinations, etc in some hospital management systems.

Due to the integrated nature of the HMS, all the procedures done in various departments of the hospitals, all the tests done, medicines administered and prescribed are tracked, thus allowing easy comprehensive billing.

Lab information management systems ( LIMS )

Lab information management systems, as the name implies, are used to manage the functions of a lab. It will have provisions for sample collection, inventory management, accounting functions, and provisions for machine interfacing with the lab equipments.

A good lab information system will provide full automation, and ensures error-free results, with alerts for abnormal results. With machine interfacing, data from the instruments in the lab are directly read by the software, and accurate records are made against the sample data. In case of LIMS systems integrated with the hospital management system, provisions maybe there to add the test results to the patient records. Stand-alone systems are also available for use by independent laboratories.

Lab information management systems help lab technicians to achieve a smooth workflow and better quality control. From the point at which sample is collected, till the results are delivered, samples are tracked using the software, which means that any technician in the lab can find out what to do with a sample at every step of the way, thus avoiding issues with sample management. The system also prevents errors, thus improving the credibility of the lab.

Billing software

Billing software has been used as part of hospitals and clinics ever since accounting went digital. Even before EHRs came, accounting software was being used in many hospitals.

Billing software helps to manage insurance claims and provides a smooth accounting of medical bills. Entire medical costs of all the patients can be easily accessed and organized in an efficient manner using billing software. Though they come along with hospital and practice management systems these days, they are still available as stand-alone systems. 

To know more about different types of health care software, and to get demos for them,  visit MocDoc

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