Thursday, July 9, 2009

OSCAR vs. Practice Solutions

OSCAR and Practice Solutions have become the two must-have EMR finalists on your shortlist evaluation when making a decision on which EMR to choose in Ontario.

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Practice Solutions and OSCAR are both government certified, standards supporting and based on modern architectural and user interface paradigms. Furthermore, both OSCAR and Practice Solutions will support either hosted or local deployment models.

From a user's perspective, the Graphical User Interface is the most important, make-it-or-break-it function within an EMR. Put simply, without a modern, freeform based data input model, your EMR will slow you down and frustrate you on a daily basis.

Luckily, both OSCAR and Practice Solutions have implemented very similar user experiences.

And so, considering both have similar certifications, support similar standards, offer equivalent functionality, and are both based on modern, user friendly interfaces, how does one decide on which EMR to deploy?

If you want to go with the EMR with the largest market share, the one owned by the Canadian Medical Association, then your choice is clear - Practice Solutions is your choice. It is not a bad choice. Practice Solutions EMR is a reasonably architected, user friendly software application. The CMA is a very large organization with many resources and significant assets.

OSCAR, on the other hand, continues to beat Practice Solutions in numerous head to head competitions. OSCAR has become the EMR of choice for practitioners that care about ease of use, cost, choice of supplier, platform flexibility, and data stewardship.

The OSCAR advantage is significant and hard to ignore.

  • OSCAR costs significantly less. OSCAR is the least expensive, full featured and fully certified EMR to deploy and operate. There are no license fees. You do not have to pay annual support fees forever.

  • OSCAR is open source. You own your data. No one has the right to take that data away from you.

  • OSCAR is free of software bombs. You can not be locked out of your system by your vendor because you did not pay your annual maintenance fee, or whatever other reason your vendor may dream up. There are no back-doors in OSCAR. There are no super user passwords that change everyday without your knowledge or consent. Your OSCAR EMR is your EMR.

  • OSCAR runs on commodity hardware. Any computer workstation that has a web browser is capable of running OSCAR. You do not need to purchase all new top of the line workstations. In most cases, your existing workstations will be just fine.

  • OSCAR is open to end user modifications and enhancements. You are free to change OSCAR to meet your specific needs. You do not have to ask for permission.

  • OSCAR is available from multiple sources. Whether you support your own OSCAR installation or choose from one of many OSCAR support companies, you are free to pick the supplier that satisfies your specific requirements.

OSCAR versus Practice Solutions. OSCAR gives you more of what you want and less of what you didn't know you were about to get.


Steven Bergg said...

It's interesting you pick on Practice solutions to compare with. In Western Canada the only EMR availble for funded use in every province is Med Access.

Med Access has a much more modern platform than any of the legacy vendors you pick on and, after funding will cost you a few thousand more one time and about the same on-going (assuming you buy support) as OSCAR.

I am a huge fan of open source software. Med Access uses some. But there are risks and costs ascociated with fully open source solutions. There is a reason banks, as profit minded as they are don't use fully open source software.

I think if the end user understands the limitations and true costs of using fully open source software it can be a richly rewarding and fun. But you do have to tell them up front what those risks are.

A small example... I spoke to a Physician last month moving off the OSCAR Platform. Whenever he had problems with billing he would call support, but nobody there had written the code or wanted to take responsibility for the mistake.

We all make mistakes, but being able to speak to somone that is legally and morally responsible for it, and who has the ability to fix it quickly is key.

There are many pros and cons with open source software. I think if a site like this is going to be truly non commercial you have to offer both sides of the argument. I know physicians that are also computer programmers and OSCAR is their PASSION! They spend hours and hours working on it and have a lot of fun. But those hours of work don't show up in the cost comparison either : )

Your article is correct, there are definate cost advantages to a true web based solution running in linux. Which is probably why you picked Practice Solutions and not Med Access for your comparison. It would be intersting to see a truly un-biased comparison that takes into account all of the costs, features and risks between your software and another modern platform that has full funding and accountability.

I think OSCAR has some definate advantages over legacy platforms. Of all the "other" EMR's they are my favourtite. I do however feel that in their passion for the software, many well meaning people inadvertantly mis-respresent competitive products and fail to show the balanced argument for fully open source software. Even with all of the pros and cons exposed, and the competitive products fairly represented their will be some people that use OSCAR. OSCAR has a definate place in a niche market. In that niche it's #1 I think.

I know somone will jump on here and say I have a commercial interest as I am an excutive of Med Access and therefore negate my opinion. Many of those who support and promote OSCAR are just as biased, and just as passionate as me. Some even more so! I admire that passion. But let's regognize that bias too, lets have an honest debate and then your most excellent software would, I believe, have an enhanced reputation as everyone using would understand up front what they where getting into.

Keep up the good work!

Anonymous said...

Is that really true that Med Access is the only EMR available for funded use? I thought that at least in alberta there are two others.

Anonymous said...

Every jurisdiction in Canada has multiple choices of EMRs to choose from.

In some jurisdictions, the province has picked a couple of "winners" in the hope that the other solutions will "just go away". They pick these solutions by not funding fairly across the market, but only with a small number of selected offerings. But, even in a market like Alberta, where the government selected three products for their funding program, they did not say that you could not use other EMRs. Even in Alberta, there are OSCAR users.

Unfortunately, governments have a very bad track record at actually picking winners.

Please choose the best EMR for your practice.