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Best In KLAS: Shifts in the Provider Operations Landscape Influence Vendor Selection

March 23, 2015
by Mark Hagland
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The “Best in KLAS 2014 Software & Services” report, released recently by the Orem, Utah-based KLAS Research, comes at a time when broad policy and business trends in healthcare are strongly affecting the healthcare IT industry. Most notably, intense efforts on the part of providers to engage in population health and accountable care arrangements are changing the landscape for core electronic health record/electronic medical record (EHR/EMR) vendors, while the need to interoperate between clinical and financial systems—coming out of the same trends around the shift towards population health and accountable care on the part of providers—is rearranging the landscape for vendors offering patient accounting and revenue cycle management solutions.

In that context, HCI Editor-in-Chief Mark Hagland interviewed Colin Buckley, director of research strategy at KLAS, on the EHR/EMR vendor segment results from this year’s “Best In KLAS” report, and interviewed Boyd Stewart, a research director on KLAS’s professional services and financial solutions team, to get their perspectives in those areas. Below are excerpts from both interviews.

Colin Buckley

When It Comes to EMR/EHR, Population Health Is Forcing Shifts

What do you see as some of the biggest trends right now in the EMR/EHR vendor space?

Colin Buckley: In some ways, the story hasn’t changed dramatically from previous years, though some vendors are struggling more than others. In terms of the major vendors on the acute-care side, we have Epic and Cerner still leading the pack, due to the integration, the more consistent service and delivery, as well as the hand-holding and knowledge and expertise, that they offer; then we’ve got Meditech and McKesson Paragon as two vendors not being considered nearly as much by healthcare IT executives as Cerner and Epic, and their performance has been uneven as well. Now, Allscripts in the anomaly; that’s the one that really sticks out this year, that Allscripts had a pretty significant improvement in their score; and they had a significant improvement last year, too. We’re hearing from their customers that they’re pleased with how things have been going, with their strategy and acquisitions.

And we just put online today a report, the EMR Purchasing Plans Report, and for those who are switching, most of the consideration is still going to Epic and Cerner; Allscripts gets very little consideration from the outside. But the stability of their customer base has increased, and two-thirds of the folks currently on Allscripts told us they’re definitely staying put. They’ve become optimistic; they’ve seen improvements in the Sunrise enterprise suite. So Allscripts was third place this year, and that derives from satisfaction with the suite of products that used to be the old Eclipsys suite. They’ve been maturing that product, and the satisfaction with it has slowed down attrition from Allscripts, but hasn’t compelled most newcomers to consider it.

How will the competition for new contracts play out?

Based on the research we did for this new report, Epic and Cerner are still getting the bulk of the attention.  Meanwhile, what will happen with the legacy EMR organizations—Meditech CS, and Meditech Magic? A lot of their customers are looking to upgrade to the latest Version 6, and they’re headed in that direction. Version 6 is a new platform, so upgrading to Version 6 is really like doing a new implementation. But most of Meditech’s customers are remaining loyal. Meanwhile, one of the biggest trouble spots has been around Paragon by McKesson, which has dropped, as they’ve struggled to deliver reliable upgrades.

Do you see overall satisfaction improving among vendors?

I don’t think so. There may be a bit of leveling out happening. The distribution is probably spreading a bit.

Has the EMR market matured? Have the products matured? Or is that too general?

The products are better than they used to be, and most are improving to some degree or another. The question is, can the vendors keep up with the expectations that keep changing all the time.

How has the meaningful use program impacted all of this? It appears to have made healthcare IT executives impatient with the pace of innovation on the part of core EMR/EHR vendors.

Yes, it’s raising the bar all the time. meaningful use Stage 1 revolutionized the market. And now the expectations are far beyond just implementing a system and turning it on. And they’re being asked to do things that are much more impactful. And even when some vendors are having some challenges, that is a form of maturation.

We’re hearing about dissatisfaction with EHR capabilities overall.