See which type of Medical Software would be Most Appropriate for Your Medical Office

By Eric Fishman, MD

The HITECH ACT discusses Electronic Health Record Software extensively, with the phrase EHR mentioned more than 100 times within the document. However, there are a variety of other forms of medical software. provides an incredible listing of medical software. Providing links to over 300 Electronic Health Record software programs, it is the most comprehensive database of medical software available.

However, as above, medical software can include Electronic Health Records, such as those which we evaluate, as well as other forms of medical software.

Electronic Health Records (EHRs) are also frequently called Electronic Medical Records (EMRs). If you’re interested in learning about the differences between EMRs and EHRs, there are a variety of articles on this category of medical software.

Other categories of medical software which may be of interest include Medical Billing Software. Medical Billing Software can be incorporated into an Electronic Medical Record Software program, in an integrated EMR / Medical Billing software program, or it may be a stand-alone program. In fact, many of the earliest forms of medical software were stand-alone Practice Management Software (PM) or Physician Practice Management Software (PMS) and these were, by far, the most popular medical software programs in the 1980s and 1990s. However, current state of the art medical software usually includes a medical record software component along with the practice management / aka medical billing software program.

Another interesting concept which needs to be addressed when discussing medical software is whether you want a client/server medical software program or a ‘Software as a Service’ aka SaaS program. As a basic principle, if you are a solo physician or practicing in a small office you almost always will want Software as a Service (or SaaS) as this will minimize your dependence upon an internal information technology support person. Once you reach 5 physicians, and certainly having reached 10 physicians, it becomes reasonable to consider a client/server medical software program, whether this be an EMR or a medical billing software program. Please don’t interpret this to mean that all 5 physician offices require a client/server medical software program, but rather that offices smaller than 5 physicians should, at least at this point in time, almost never consider client/server software because of the inherent complications and expenses associated with maintaining the medical software on servers within your office.

Other common classes of medical software include e-prescribing software. E-prescribing software has, at least in the past, frequently been a stand-alone medical software program. However, at this point in time there is a significant movement to have this software incorporated into a more comprehensive software program such as an integrated EMR/Medical Billing software program.

Then there are various Medical PDA software programs, but again, as time goes on, these stand-alone utilities are being incorporated into comprehensive medical software suites. In the 1980s and more so in the 1990s, these PDA medical software programs included software programs which would have various medical information available within them, including standard diagnostic and physical examination software programs. This information is now more appropriately incorporated into more sophisticated databases such as those which are incorporated into medical decision support software as a part of an EMR. However, there remain various PDA medical software programs for most medical specialties. Again, most of these have been incorporated into fully functional EMRs or combined EMR/PM systems.

Brand names of these various long-existing types of medical software include “Epocrates,” “Harrison’s Manual of Medicine,” “Washington Manual of Therapeutics,” and “Tarascon Pharmacopoeia” as well as a variety of medical dictionaries which were available as software programs.

And, then of course there were a variety of medical software programs that were specifically developed for The Palm. Various programs include, for instance, medical terminology in English and Spanish.

To learn more about Electronic Health Records, visit