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The Often Missed Benefit of SaaS EHR

Posted on December 12, 2013 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

I came across a great article by Geoffrey Moore on LinkedIn talking about “SaaS’s Real Triumph.” He suggests that the “greatest contribution of SaaS is to free the enterprise from the tyranny of the product release model.”

This is a really interesting concept. Far too often when we talk about SaaS EHR software we talk about the payments being spread out over time as opposed to a big lump sum payment up front. Plus, we love to talk about how that means you can leave that EHR software if you don’t like it. The former is an important consideration for every CFO. The later usually doesn’t play itself out as nicely since you often have to sign a contract for a certain number of years. However, at least if there are major issues you still hold most of the money.

I think Geoffrey is right about this rarely discussed benefit of SaaS. As he acknowledges, SaaS EHR software does have some level of ongoing disruption that must be dealt with, but it’s nothing like the disruption that occurs with a major product release form an enterprise software like an EHR. In fact, I think these major release updates are likely going to be the eventual downfall of the major EHR systems we know today. It won’t happen until after meaningful use, but it will present an opportunity for a scrappy startup. We’ll see if the current EHR companies will be able to adapt.

I’m sure many of you reading this have stories and experiences you can share on the topic of enterprise EHR upgrades. I look forward to reading them in the comments. Of course, I bet there’s just as many stories about hospital IT leadership being afraid of SaaS as well. The clash has begun.

Deploying WiFi For Clinicians, Hospital Guests A Complex Problem

Posted on December 3, 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.

These days, offering WiFi for both hospital visitors and clinicians is pretty much de rigeur. The problem is, clinicians need different things from their Wi-Fi connection than consumers do. And as a recent story in Healthcare IT News notes, that can make it difficult to keep up with everyone’s demands.

According to Ali Youssef, senior clinical mobile solutions architect at Detroit-based Henry Ford Health System, maintaining a wireless network that suits everyone’s needs is “moving target.”

Youssef was responsible for planning and implementing the HFHS wireless network, which included expanding coverage from 4 million to 8 million square feet. What’s more, the network rollout had to take into account the needs of the HFHS enterprise EMR system, according to the HIN piece.

For Youssef, one of the most difficult problems health IT managers face in this situation is provisioning bandwidth appropriately to all the different types of devices that will share the bandwidth.

Not surprisingly, Youssef believes that one of the most important ways to see that everyone has enough bandwidth is regular contact with the system’s clinicians.

In some situations, clinicians may need far more bandwidth then the IT department had anticipated, for example, where clinician is launching a new project fueled by grant money, notes the Healthcare IT News piece. (We’re also increasingly see a growing list of wireless medical devices, such as wireless glucometers, edge into mainstream clinical care.)

To cope with these rapidly changing demands, Youssef recommends planning for a high level of wireless system redundancy and conducting site surveys.

And in what may be a more difficult challenge, he recommends that network architects keep continuous tabs on what types of devices are going to be used, and testing them see how they behave on their health system’s network.

Youssef didn’t offer any detailed advice on how to accommodate hospital visitors in this story, but clearly, they will pose a significant challenge to any hospital network architect as well.

Particularly as apps become part of patients’ health system experience, network architects will need to bear consumer experience of the network in mind as well. It will be interesting to see, over the next few years, whether consumer wireless health use demands a fresh approach to network architecture generally.

Cerner, Intermountain Form Major Development Partnership

Posted on October 1, 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.

Normally, when I read the news of a vendor partnership, it’s a major snoozefest. After all, marketing deals and customer wins may be important to the vendor, but they don’t change our life much.

This time, though, I’m willing to go out a limb and say that the following is an important deal. Cerner, one of the leading players on the enterprise EMR front, has struck an agreement with healthcare chain Intermountain Healthcare under which the two will partner long-term on activity-based costing.

Intermountain, the largest health provider in the Intermountain West region of the US, is making a huge Cerner buy, Information Week reports. As part of its agreement with Cerner, Intermountain is tearing out its existing systems, including two EMRs, two billing systems and desktop integration system, and replacing them with Cerner technology.

In this deal, you can certainly chalk up one more win for Cerner, which has been gaining ground in the 200+ bed hospital segment of late. According to KLAS, the ratio of Epic-to-Cerner wins has fallen from 5-to-1 in 2010 to 2-to-1 in 2012 in this segment, according to the research firm.

But the agreement goes well beyond being a mere sale. Once the new, integrated Cerner system is in place, it will serve as the foundation for the long-term project partners have in mind.

Intermountain chose to partner with Cerner because of its system’s open architecture, which will allow for the addition of new content Intermountain plans to provide, CIO Marc Probst told Information Week.

The partners plan a closely-integrated relationship which involves the movement of several Cerner executives and staffers to Intermountain’s headquarters in Salt Lake City. Their work will include development of care process models, connectivity-based costing, advanced decision support and clinical workflows, IW reports.

Getting this work done requires little short of a wedding. ” “We’re looking at 20 plus years of collaboration. We have shared interests in making this be a great success,” Probst told the magazine.

Epic & Meditech: Distant Cousins?

Posted on July 19, 2012 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

Chris O’Neal is Managing Partner at KATALUS Advisors. KATALUS Advisors is a strategic consulting firm focused on the healthcare vertical. We serve healthcare technology vendors, hospitals, and private equity groups in North America, Europe, and the Middle East. Our services span growth strategies in new and existing markets, M&A due diligence, market analysis, and advisory services. www.KATALUSadvisors.com

A recent comment on a blog post suggested that Epic is following a similar trajectory which Meditech pioneered, basically positing that Meditech was the Epic of 15 years ago. This has obviously generated some controversy as knowledgeable folks have taken up both sides of this argument. In reality, there is no clean “yes” or “no” answer. There are key similarities, as well as stark differences in these two vendors.

In terms of similarities, Epic and Meditech both adhere to a common product delivery philosophy in that they build products rooted in a single-database platform. Both companies believe that integration is key to the success of HIT and have continued to develop their products around that philosophy. Both products even share the use of MUMPS as their backend architecture.

Yet, Meditech did something no other vendor was able to do for the longest time: They delivered an integrated enterprise solution at prices which community hospitals could afford. While Meditech racked up win after win in the community hospital space, Epic approached the market from the opposite end of the spectrum by selling their inpatient solutions to the largest hospitals and IDNs. And the price tag reflected the scale of those contracts. Another difference which has been shared by some is the view that Epic is much more controlling in their processes and approach to working with hospitals. Meditech does not have the same “my way or no way” reputation. Additionally, Epic has consistently improved the usability and functionality of their products, while Meditech has released new versions and enhancements at a slower pace.

In the final analysis, it is probably logical to say Epic and Meditech are more dissimilar than they are similar, when both companies are viewed holistically. This is especially true if we consider that Epic is winning the lion’s share of hospital contracts that it goes after, while Meditech, which still maintains the largest hospital customer base in the industry, is working hard to deliver new software to the hospitals it has already won.

Which Health IT and EHR Vendors Should Critical Access Hospitals Consider?

Posted on September 27, 2011 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

The number of health IT and EHR enterprise options available to critical access hospitals is increasing as competition for new hospital contracts moves downstream to smaller facilities. The following is a brief (not all-inclusive) list of health IT and EHR vendors that could be ideal fits for critical access and small, rural hospitals:

  • CPSI: Has done a good job of proving clinical adoption and leads with the most critical access hospital clients doing CPOE.
  • Healthland: Solid system with proven operational capability. Clients give the EMR high marks for usability.
  • HMS: Reinvesting heavily in improving clinical functionality and UI, including a partnership with MEDHOST for strong ED capability.
  • McKesson: Paragon is being considered more often in the critical access space. Has significant sales momentum in larger community hospitals, with some IDN wins.
  • Meditech: Already has a huge client base in larger community hospitals. Small organizations with resources are considering v.6.
  • NextGen: Gets little notice despite having an inpatient offering that is completely integrated with their successful outpatient EMR. Already have a number of clients. Has solid functionality.
  • Prognosis: Exciting new entrant. Applies remote-hosting technology to a single-database inpatient solution for small, rural facilities and critical access hospitals. Already has several clients.

These health IT and EMR vendors represent a mix of those who have caught the attention of smaller facilities, those who represent a new and intriguing competitive advantage, and those who have proven able to deliver products in a small hospital environment.

See also our list of hospital EMR and EHR vendors.

Chris O’Neal is Managing Partner at KATALUS Advisors. KATALUS Advisors is a strategic consulting firm focused on the healthcare vertical. We serve healthcare technology vendors, hospitals, and private equity groups in North America, Europe, and the Middle East. Our services span growth strategies in new and existing markets, M&A due diligence, market analysis, and advisory services. www.KATALUSadvisors.com