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Accenture: Five Questions Hospital Boards Should Ask Before EMR Buys

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.

January 24, 2013 I Written By

Anne Zieger is veteran healthcare consultant and analyst with 20 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.

2013: The Year Of The EMR Switch

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!

December 27, 2012 I Written By

Anne Zieger is veteran healthcare consultant and analyst with 20 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.