After years of ferment, it looks like this is going to be a year when many a hospital decides to rip and replace their system.
Pundits of various stripes like to dwell on the big-ticket installations — some in the many hundreds of millions of dollars — and yes, those folks are not very likely to back out. But those same pundits are beginning to note that a high percentage of hospitals (and doctors, by the way) are growing unhappy with the EMRs they’ve got.
What has so many providers in agreement that their system doesn’t cut it? Maybe it’s the pressure to meet Meaningful Use 2 standards. Maybe it’s a recognition that their system requires too much care and feeding. Or maybe, just maybe, the fact that doctors hate the system they’ve got is finally filtering through.
Regardless, if there is a wave of hospital EMR switches, it could have a big impact on the EMR sales process:
Vendors will market their heads off: With lots of new contracts up for grabs, vendors would be crazy not to spend on marketing like they never have before. But they’d better be selling confidence — think the “we’re the people you can trust” ads run by life insurance companies — or it won’t win a lot of fans.
Hospitals will be sadder but wiser: All of that happy marketing stuff aside, hospitals will (hopefully) be harder to convince and clearer on what they want. That means doing some long, sober, careful analyses of what went wrong the previous time, but nobody will be rushing into things this time, so why not?
Alternatives (like open source) may see more momentum: With hospitals having already sunk big money into products that didn’t make the cut, maybe this time they’ll give free open source EMRs and health IT infrastructure a chance.
New market winners and losers will emerge: Right now, the same 10 or 15 players are usually turning up in EMR satisfaction surveys. With a big switch going on, some may lose their pride of place and new winners may emerge. It would be pretty surprising if every hospital EMR switcher just jumped on the same products that already dominate the market.
Maybe this time, with Meaningful Use experience under their belt and some experience with a live EMR, the (re)selection process will go better this time. Let’s hope so!