EMR Vendors Need To Get Their Act Together

Posted on March 22, 2013 I Written By

Anne Zieger is veteran healthcare branding and communications expert with more than 25 years of industry experience. and her commentaries have appeared in dozens of international business publications, including Forbes, Business Week and Information Week. She has also worked extensively healthcare and health IT organizations, including several Fortune 500 companies. She can be reached at @ziegerhealth or www.ziegerhealthcare.com.

For quite some time now, EMR vendors have gotten away with selling products that aren’t very usable and may even pose safety risks. But that’s the price enterprise EMR buyers have been willing to pay to jump in and automate. Very soon, though, vendors may be held to a higher standard, a new report from KLAS.

KLAS recently held a bake-off comparing Allscripts, Cerner, Epic, McKesson’s Paragon, Meditech 6 and Siemens’ Soarian EMRs head to head where it comes to usability and efficiency, SearchHealthIT reports. The study looked at how the products worked for individual users, and then looked at how they meet organizational quality of care demands.

Some of the EMRs  — and I wish SearchHealthIT had told us which ones — took a full month for physicians to learn. In some cases, physicians who were willing to take that month ended up with a richer experience than those which were easy and quick to learn, while in other cases, the darned thing still wasn’t usable.  Of course, those with long learning curves and unimpressive features suffered from low physician adoption, the  publication notes.

This is all interesting enough, but what grabbed me about the story was a provider quote from an end user, supplied by KLAS:

“As suggested by the new 2014 certification standards, vendors should take more responsibility for both the usability and safety of their products. These responsibilities shouldn’t be the sole purview of healthcare organizations and providers like they have been until now.”

Could it be that providers have finally gotten to the point where they’re no longer going to put up with unusable products and bring the hammer down even on giants like the big-shouldered group listed above?  After all, so far providers have swallowed hard and accepted a lot of ugly technology.

Maybe Meaningful Use demands are finally giving health organizations the backbone they need to stand up to Jabba the Hutt vendors?