How Drug Companies Are Using EHRs as Marketing Tools

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act has several provisions aimed at limiting drug companies' access to physicians. However, the rapid expansion of electronic health record systems under the PPACA has given marketers a new avenue for pushing their products, according to a Reuters report.

Because of the steep price tag on many EHR systems, smaller physician practices often turn to free, advertiser-supported software, such as Practice Fusion which is used by about 100,000 physicians across the country. While using these free EHR systems during a patient visit, physicians see pop-ups ranging from company ads for system upgrades to ads for pharmaceuticals.

EHR vendors also often have the ability to collect and analyze de-identified patient data, allowing for more direct contact between drug companies and patients. Practice Fusion CEO Ryan Howard told Reuters pharmaceutical companies can fund direct email vaccine reminders to patients on behalf of the physician.

EHRs were intended to improve physicians' workflow and store and display needed patient information, Mary Griskewicz, senior director of health information systems at HIMSS told Reuters. Pop-up ads and sponsored emails "weren't the intent," she said.

More Articles on EHRs:

Meaningful Use Outside of the Metropolis: The Challenges of Rural Health IT Adoption
OIG: CMS Should Develop Best Practices to Detect EHR Fraud
Top 10 Technologies Healthcare Leaders (Should) Want 

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