Free Hospital EMR and EHR Newsletter Want to receive the latest news on EMR, Meaningful Use, ARRA and Healthcare IT sent straight to your email? Join thousands of healthcare pros who subscribe to Hospital EMR and EHR for FREE!

Leveraging Vendor Neutral Archives Against EHR Vendor Lock In

Posted on October 3, 2013 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 15 blogs containing almost 6000 articles with John having written over 3000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 13 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit.

I recently heard of a new strategy that some organizations are employing to be able to avoid EHR vendor lock in. I’m happy to support anything that prevents EHR vendor lock in. The fact that a hospital can switch EHR software, doesn’t mean they will. However, the ability to switch EHR software usually means that the EHR vendor makes more effort to make sure they’re meeting the customer’s needs. This is why I think that preventing EHR lock in is so important. I don’t like EHR vendors resting on their laurels because a hospital has no choice but to use that software.

The method I heard described was a hospital who chose to implement a vendor neutral archive (VNA) of their EHR data. We usually hear VNA’s applied to radiology, but I predict over the next 3-5 years every large organization will have an EMR VNA as well. In this case, the hospital chose to implement a VNA while they were on good terms with their current EHR vendor.

Most EHR vendors won’t facilitate a VNA if you’re leaving them. So, it’s important that this is done before you choose to leave an EHR vendor. We also shouldn’t start assuming now that everyone that has a VNA is getting ready to part ways with their EHR vendor. In fact, I’d love for an EHR VNA to become the standard in the industry. That way, if and when an organization chooses to change software vendors, they can do so without losing all of the important data they’ve been collecting and storing in their EHR.

Just remember that it’s too late to employ this strategy when you’re ready to switch EHRs. It takes a forward thinking organization and investment to do this while everything is going great with your EHR vendor. Consider the investment insurance for a rainy day to come. I assure you that day will come for most healthcare organizations.

Paper to EMR is Much Easier to Justify Than EMR to EMR

Posted on May 30, 2013 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 15 blogs containing almost 6000 articles with John having written over 3000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 13 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit.

When I was last in DC at the Healthcare Forum, I heard hospital CIO Bill RiegerStep Out” and talk about some of the challenges he faces as a hospital CIO. One of the things he said in his talk really rang true to me and is going to become an increasingly important topic in healthcare.

His comment: The ROI from Paper to EMR is Much Easier to Justify than EMR to EMR

This is a powerful and challenging thing to consider. I’m sure those at Epic, Cerner, Meditech, etc are licking their chops knowing that it will take a hospital CIO with special leadership skills to overcome this challenge. Yes, from their perspective they have some incredible customer lock in. However, Bill went on to describe that it’s not impossible to lead such an effort. In fact, his hospital was switching EMR software shortly after I heard him speak.

The biggest challenge with this idea isn’t that there’s no ROI to switch from one EMR to another EMR. There can be a significant ROI, but most hospital CIOs are afraid to make such a call. They’re afraid to really dig in deeply to find out what a new EMR might mean for their hospitals. Sometimes this is because they were the one who implemented the first EMR. Other times it’s they’re too risk averse to take on such a challenging project. It’s often easier to sweep thing under the rug than it is to pull up the rug and really see what’s going on under the covers.

I’m of course not suggesting that switching EMR software is always the right decision either. One of the first lessons I learned out of college was that change doesn’t always mean better. In fact, a change can make things worse.

I do believe that continuous improvement leads to beautiful results. Too many in healthcare IT are satisfied with status quo. If we’re going to continuously improve, one area we can start is to dig deeply into the ROI of going from electronic to electronic.

Accenture: Five Questions Hospital Boards Should Ask Before EMR Buys

Posted on January 24, 2013 I Written By

Anne Zieger is veteran healthcare editor and analyst with 25 years of industry experience. Zieger formerly served as editor-in-chief of FierceHealthcare.com and her commentaries have appeared in dozens of international business publications, including Forbes, Business Week and Information Week. She has also contributed content to hundreds of healthcare and health IT organizations, including several Fortune 500 companies. She can be reached at @ziegerhealth or www.ziegerhealthcare.com.

As we’ve noted in the past, hospitals are on not only an EMR buying binge, they’re doing a lot of switching from one EMR to another. Check out these stats from Accenture:

Accenture research shows that 4 to 4.5 percent of hospitals plan to make an EMR buying decision each year. This
could exceed 110+ EMR contracts or 200 to 250 hospitals per year. This trend is expected to continue well into the
future. In fact, in 2012, 50 percent of EMR deals [were] replacements, up from 30 percent in 2011, according to KLAS Research.

Whether your hospital is a switcher, a late adopter or  planning some kind of EMR upgrade, it’s making a decision of grave importance. So what are some of the key considerations boards should bear in mind? Here’s Accenture’s list of five key questions boards should keep front and center as they consider (more)  big EMR investments and plan for the future:

*  Does your current system offer enough functionality to meet up and coming Meaningful Use requirements, such as the ability to make patient family health histories and imaging results available? Does your current or contemplated EMR vendor have plans in place to keep up with future requirements/changes?

*  Is the EMR vendor’s development strategy in line with your strategy? “Boards should ask of the EMR vendor: do they have adequate resources…to help complete the business roadmap on time and successfully?” Accenture asks. And just as importantly: “Can the vendor help ensure that future product functions are strategically aligned to the healthcare [system’s] key initatives?”

* Is your hospital currently on track to meet ICD-10 adoption and Meaningful Use Stage 2 requirements?  Is your vendor going to be able to help support you in these efforts as your hospital works to meet these multiple goals, or does it lack the resources to do so?

* If we decide to switch EMRs, do we have the internal resources needed to support such a bandwidth-sucking effort? Given competition for healthcare IT labor today, will you have the ability to hire on additional resources if needed? And while you’re at it, is your C-level and IT leadership solid enough to make such a treacherous journey?

* Can your hospital afford to switch EMRs, bearing in mind not only direct costs such as licensing, implementation and new technical support, but also ongoing support costs in the neighborhood of 20 percent per year?

To answer these questions, Accenture recommends you conduct an independent analysis of EMR vendors (presumably, rather than relying on analyst firms or peer feedback exclusively).  This sounds like a very good idea to me.

2013: The Year Of The EMR Switch

Posted on December 27, 2012 I Written By

Anne Zieger is veteran healthcare editor and analyst with 25 years of industry experience. Zieger formerly served as editor-in-chief of FierceHealthcare.com and her commentaries have appeared in dozens of international business publications, including Forbes, Business Week and Information Week. She has also contributed content to hundreds of healthcare and health IT organizations, including several Fortune 500 companies. She can be reached at @ziegerhealth or www.ziegerhealthcare.com.

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!