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.