Review: Quicken Medical Expense Manager 1.1

In these days where one increasingly has to take personal responsibility for appropriate medical coverage, Intuit’s Quicken Medical Expense Manager fills the bill. While not an Open Source product by any means, it does take a different perspective…the patient’s. Many of the projects covered on Linux Medical News concentrate on the needs of the provider. It is worth a moment to take a look at a solution, even a proprietary one, that takes a different approach.

What sort of deductable should I have? How much should I put into a FSA Medical Reimbursement Account for next year? How much dental coverage do I need? Are there any outstanding medical bills to be paid? These questions may be easy for some people to answer, but for other folks, with more complex medical histories or payees, Quicken Medical Expense Manager would help.

Quicken Medical Expense Manager allows you to record and track your various medical bills, insurance, and out of pocket expenses. One sets up the program with various people (even pets!) and then one keeps it updated with the explanation of benefits and purchases. It keeps track of various services, reasons for service, medications, and tax deductions. It allows for a number
of reports on that data. The demo movies on the site do a good job of showing the various features.

Note, Quicken Medical Expense Manager is an Expense manager so it deals with the financial side of things. It includes a short note space for medical history, and a “Reason” category, but it should not be confused with an Electronic Medical Record.

Further, this seems to be an early offering by Quicken, and as such there are some areas that can be fleshed out. The application is intuitive to use and shows a polished look that you would expect from a major software vendor. The information stored and processed is more than adequate, but it does not allow for sophisticated usage.

Is It For Me?

If you are having to track several people with medical issues and/or several insurance companies, and need to know what is going on quickly and easily, Quicken Medical Expense Manager would answer your basic, but important questions.

If you have a simpler medical/insurance history, you may appreciate having it all organized and at your fingertips. However, you may wish to have more features to make all that data entry seem like time well spent.

Some of the additional features that I would like to see would be:

  • Import into Quicken Deluxe, Intuit’s personal money managing software. Quicken Medical Expense Manager is a stand-alone product. It does not interface with other software. I would like money, or planning, that effects my budget to be available via Quicken Deluxe.
  • Import from Health Insurance sites. Much of the basic infomation in Quicken Medical Expense Manager is already available to me through my insurance companies’ website. I would like to be able to import that into Quicken Medical Expense Manager, just like I can download my mutual fund info into Quicken Deluxe. However, there may be HIPPA issues that might prevent this from happening.
  • Graphs. I don’t think it is just me, but I would like graphs. Quicken Medical Expense Manager provides some great reports, but it would be great to see the information. Things such as a bar graph with expenses per month, a pie chart of the different services used, or a scatter plot of reasons for service and people might help me understand what is going on with my insurance and health of
    my family. Knowing which insurance company pays promptly, and which do not, would also be valuable.
  • Data export so I can export the information in electronic format (XML?) to use elsewhere.

How Open is it?

Quicken Medical Expense Manager does not allow for export of data, save printing. From an Open perspective, this is lock-in from a proprietary vendor. However, it may also help keep Intuit from running afoul of HIPPA. The Quicken Medical Expense Manager End User Licensing Agreement claims that it meets national privacy standards (HIPPA compliant.) Further, the EULA says that the user is the one who is responsible for protected health information and individually identifiable health information. It will be interesting to see if in the future one will be able to easily get their information exported out of the application in an electronic format, or if there will be any data exchange at all.

Others Options?

A quick search of the Internet didn’t find many other folks taking this patient centric approach.

EMR (Electronic Medical Records)?

As noted above, Quicken Medical Expense Manager does not compose a medical record. It does allow one to add enteries to a “Reason” category to help track why someone had healthcare. One can run reports off of the Reason category. There is also a note field for each expense, but it is not searchable.

There is a call on some of the Quicken Medical Expense Manager Forums to allow files to be associated with expenses, which would be a great way to include scanned copies of the actual Estimate of Benefits as well as medical information. However, this information would only be categorized with the simple method described above. That said, an EMR for an individual’s use, or to track members of a typically sized family, may not require much more than some general reasons, names of the service provider, and dates, to pull the information one might need.

As more people track their medical expenses electronically, it may seem a small step to people wanting to track the medical information that comes from those episodes. Perhaps this may be a tipping point that will help EMR’s make inroads into medical practices.

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