Today, I’m going to tell you about a legal dispute between the hospital EMR vendor NextGen Healthcare Information Systems. It’s not pretty but it’s not so spectacular that deserves a lot of publicity by itself. But the dispute does say something about the capacity of vendors to keep up with the next round of certifications and support for Meaningful Use Stage 2 and beyond.
The dispute involves two parties, the Mountainview Medical Center of White Sulfur Springs, Mt. and NextGen. According to documents filed in US District Court last week, the Medical Center had hired NextGen to install a certified EMR by June 1, 2013 for a price of $441,000. When NextGen couldn’t meet the deadline, the Medical Center gave it an extension until October 1 of this past year.
Here is where things get ugly. According to the MMC, it found out that NextGen not only failed to meet the deadline, but didn’t have a solution that complied with Meaningful Use. At that point, it seems, MMC basically threw its hands in the air and said “it’s time to fight back.” MMC now wants the $441,000 it spent to prepare for the NextGen installation.
I’m sure there’s more to this story. As you can imagine, NextGen has said that they believe the case is without merit and will defend against it. Plus, it seems that NextGen Inpatient Clinicals EHR 2.6 is 2014 Certified as a modular EHR. So, was the issue with NextGen not having enough resources to install the EHR? No doubt NextGen was certified.
My question is this: if a vendor in the size of NextGen can’t meet the meaningful use deadlines for its users, are its larger brethren at risk as well? Can we expect to see Cerner, Meditech or even Epic get so overwhelmed managing existing installations (which is what I imagine is happening with NextGen) that it will temporarily or permanently drop out of the Meaningful Use program?
Maybe your first reaction is “no way — this is just a blip on the map to successful installation and certifications for all major vendors.” But maybe not. I find myself wondering whether we’re seeing beginning of a showdown, in which, at minimum, large vendors focus on customers they’ve got already in place and lack development resources to speed the development of a certified EMR that will meet upcoming criteria.
I say, keep your vendor on a short leash. If you can’t afford to have your Meaningful Use implementation dates shift, you may need to keep close eye on even the largest and best funded vendors.