How EMR Vendors And Providers Can Partner Effectively

Over on the LinkedIn HIMSS group, they’ve posed a great question:  What does a good partnership between an EMR vendor and a provider look like?  I thought it deserved a thoughtful answer.  Here’s some ideas on how that happy relationship would function:

Vendor and provider share milestones:   Vendors and providers aren’t going to be perfectly in synch, but each side has some idea of what the other’s roadmap holds.  That reduces the odds of providers going out on a limb development-wise.

Mutual accountability:  If you’re going to have a true partnership, each side should hold the other accountable for keeping promises. (Yes, I believe accountability goes both ways;  vendors have little to gain from a partnership if it’s too one-sided.)

Vendor has a robust beta program:  As the vendor ramps up the EMR to meeting Meaningful Use and other criteria, it’s important that provider-partners be given a chance to pre-test features in real-world conditions.  The vendor should have well-structured procedures in place for processing the feedback providers offer and developing mutually-acceptable solutions to problems providers find.

Vendor isn’t secretive:  In too many cases, vendors make providers sign onerous non-disclosure agreements which prevent providers from sharing their concerns with peers when they arise. As I see it, real partners don’t impose these kind of conditions on their relationship, as they undermine trust and make it more difficult for providers to adapt to challenges.

Ultimately, providers and vendors can only go so far in a partnership; they really aren’t set up to meet the same goals.  But I do believe that vendors can do much more to listen and respond to providers’ needs, and that providers can meet them halfway. What else might you add to this list?