Debate over GP clinical software ads intensifies
THE company that created Medical Director, the most widely used patient management and prescribing software, has rejected calls to strip pharmaceutical advertising from its products, claiming such a move would result in GPs paying more for the software.
In a submission to the Medicines Australia Code of Conduct Review, the AMA called for an end to advertising in prescribing software.
“The AMA is opposed to the use of [this] material in prescribing software because of its potential to interfere with the doctor-patient relationship during consultations,” said Associate Professor John Gullotta, chair of the AMA Therapeutics Committee. The RACGP and the National Prescribing Service also called for the removal of such advertisements.
However, John Frost, CEO of Health Communication Network – which produces Medical Director – said targeting this revenue source would raise the price of software.
“Our customers have preferred a cheaper product that contains ads, than more expensive ad-free software,” he said.
Advertising does not appear in Medical Director’s clinical tools, such as the cardiovascular risk calculator, which doctors showed patients, he said.
Professor Ron Tomlins, chair of the RACGP’s National Standing Committee on Quality Care, said the college had not considered software costs when making its submission.
“We’re looking from the perspective of quality of care, and it’s our view that advertising doesn’t add to the quality of care,” he said. “Costs are a decision for the people who make that product.”
Another software package, Best Practice, does not include advertising. CEO Dr Frank Pyefinch said it was possible to run profitably without advertising revenue from medical software products.
MO understands no other prescribing software products contain such advertisements.
Meanwhile, consumer group Choice argued the maximum fine for code breaches should rise from $200,000 to $1.1 million.