Oops! Community Hospitals Unhappy With EMR Purchase

A new report from KLAS seems to confirm what we all know already — that buying an EMR is a tricky business that can easily end in failure.  The new KLAS report found that increasingly, community hospitals are questioning whether they bought the right EMR, and that a substantial number are already ripping out and replacing their system.

The authors of the report found that about 200 hospitals with less than 200 beds said they were planning to replace their EMR. And in an even more dramatic turn, KLAS found that one in three community hospitals who’d gone live with their EMR in the past 12 months felt they’d made the wrong decision.

Epic had the most overall community hospital wins for 2011, followed by Healthland, Cerner and CPSI. Looked at another, by market share, Meditech came in first with 20 percent, followed by Epic and Cerner, both with 12 percent.

This ferment comes against a backdrop of bigger institutional changes, in which smaller hospitals are joining integrated delivery networks, and as a result, are being shoehorned into using enterprise systems like Epic and Cerner already in place within the IDNs.

This level of disappointment in technical investments would be pretty remarkable in just about any industry. Given the pressure to get on the Meaningful Use train, it’s perhaps a bit less surprising, since pressure to invest can lead to fatal flaws in just about any decision-making process. Still, as an observer, it alarms me to see just how common EMR dissatisfaction is in smaller community hospitals.

As we’ve noted here before, giant institutions making giant investments seem a lot less prone to expressing dissatisfaction with their EMR.  Maybe it’s because those hospitals really are getting more for their money — who knows? But my guess is that they’ve as prone as smaller hospitals to wish they’d gone another way, given how hard it is to make an enterprise software buy that pleases everybody.

In any event, let’s hope that community hospitals largely make their peace with the EMR they’ve got. Rip and replace can’t be good for morale, finances or patient care.