Paper Companies vs. Proprietary EHR Companies

Editor: This is a work of satire, hope you enjoy it. The heated battle between paper companies and proprietary EHR companies for market share is always fascinating to watch. Linux Medical News labs weighs in on the subject by doing a rigorous, side-by-side comparison of Paper company products vs. proprietary Electronic Health Record software company products. The results may surprise you.

The conclusions of our expert analysis of paper company products vs. proprietary Electronic Health Record company products is as follows:


  • Don’t have to worry about the ‘other’ paper company doing the right thing and playing nice with your paper company.



  • When a paper company is bought out or fails, all hell does not break loose, no one is stranded, the paper users don’t care.



  • Paper companies don’t have to make suspicious promises that they won’t control or sell your records and that they’ll let you ‘export’ your data if you don’t like the software.



  • No one is ever fired for using a paper company.



  • No need for government to ‘financially incentivize the use of paper technology in medical practice’ or change Stark laws in order to make the use of paper more widespread.



  • Novel uses of paper like for airplanes or signs are easily built on top of the existing paper company product substrate. It isn’t necessary to get permission or negotiate agreements for 3rd party re-selling of paper airplanes with the paper company.



  • Paper companies don’t come back later and demand arbitrary amounts of money for upgrades which you are practically obligated to get.



  • The paper company doesn’t charge more for additional ‘seats’ or ‘practitioners’.



  • Paper companies don’t require you to rip out older paper in order to change to their new paper ‘system’.



  • Paper company products are always compatible and interoperable.



  • Paper standards were decided long ago and are not likely to change.



  • Paper companies really do compete on price.



  • Training is not necessary with your practice first paper company or when you change paper companies.



  • Ethical issues such as ‘black box medicine’ are not a problem with paper company products. Everyone knows or can know how paper works, there isn’t anything hidden in paper that can effect how you practice.



  • Future generations do not need permission from the paper company to use, copy, study, distribute, improve and build upon paper company products.



  • To decide on buying paper, you don’t have to go to a big jamboree and be subject to ridiculous displays of company wealth and power like booth babes and trinkets which you ultimately are paying for.



  • A consultant, service contract, secretary, administrator, doctor or Luddite won’t completely crush or resist your desire to use Free and Open Source paper in your practice merely by saying no.



  • Don’t have to ‘phone home to the mothership’ for permission, worry about ‘voiding the service contract’, or send more money to do something different with paper like actually use it.



  • Paper companies don’t require you to use only their programmers to perform unforseen services like stapling.



  • No worries about whether paper companies products are really Open Source and are they going to add proprietary paper company ‘widget frosting’.



  • With paper, there is no tedious, time consuming committee ‘task force’, byzantine Request For Proposal (RFP) process or vexing issue of which one out of the 100’s or 60 CCHIT certified vendor to choose from is ‘the right one’ for ‘our needs’. It’s paper! It will work!



  • No need to worry about or research what the rest of the other hospitals/clinics/agencies are using.



  • You can criticize paper company products without worrying about lawsuits, retaliation, or termination of service because of public comparisons or criticism.



  • No contract clauses disallowing reverse engineering.



  • You can try out and fully evaluate paper company products immediately. No crippled or ‘demo’ copy evaluation is necessary. Go nuts, baby!


As this list shows, paper companies appear to beat proprietary Electronic Health Record software by a substantial margin in terms of user control, price, portability, interoperability and legal entanglements. The surprise is that proprietary Electronic Health Record software companies may actually be gaining market share on paper companies.

PS: If you haven’t figured it out by now, the items above are mostly true of non-proprietary Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) Electronic Health Record software and service companies such as those that work with WorldVistA EHR/VOE 1.0, MirrorMed/ClearHealth, Ultimate EMR and others.

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