As healthcare providers strive to qualify for federal funding under the HITECH Act, it is that new market dynamic which is most strongly affecting perceptions and evaluations of IS products being offered by commercial vendors, say executives at the Orem, Utah-based KLAS.
In fact, say KLAS executives, ARRA-HITECH has been by far the most intensive topic of conservations they've had with hospital and health system CIOs. “The obvious change in our discussions from a year ago has been everything around ARRA-HITECH and meaningful use, and the impact that the stimulus legislation has had on the industry,” says Jason Hess, general manager of clinical research at KLAS. “Let me give you an example: we recently did a study on real-time location system technology. And if you go to HIMSS, there are many booths demonstrating this technology.” But, Hess says, CIOs simply aren't talking about that type of technology. “The focus is very strongly on clinical IS right now, especially anything related to CPOE, clinical documentation, bar coding at the bedside, any pieces having to do with meaningful use,” he says.
Scott Grier, a principal at Preferred Healthcare Consulting Inc., a Sarasota, Fla.-based firm, agrees that the focus right now is strongly on federal funds and on meaningful use, though he adds, “People are befuddled over the terminology on meaningful use, and over the fact that it's taking so long for the political types to firm up these definitions.”
Grier says what he's hearing is that CIOs and other IT executives are working to strategize and budget for considerable core clinical (EMR, CPOE, etc.) IS spending, but that the actual spending burst won't occur until at least next year.
In the meantime, the ratings of the largest EMR vendors in KLAS' semi-annual reports have been holding steady for some time now, as documented in the “KLAS 2009 Mid-Term Performance Review: Software & Professional Services” report, which was released in June. The report provides a comprehensive view of major vendors' product lines, and the performance of those product lines over time. Those major vendors include Meditech, McKesson, Siemens, Cerner, Epic, Eclipsys and GE.
Epic's (see Figure 1) core inpatient EMR offering continues, as in the recent past, to sit far above the segment average (73.41 out of 100), with a score of 87.11, up 2 percentage points over the last six months. Significantly under that average is GE's (see Figure 2) Centricity Enterprise Clinicals at 58.54. But the GE score actually represents a dramatic 11-point rise in that product's evaluation over its year-end KLAS score. By contrast, all other major vendors experienced only modest fluctuations in their EMR score, ranging from a 1 percent decrese to a 2 percent increase.
What's more, the overall ranking of the acute-care EMR product sector remains largely stable, being given a rating of 72.94 a year ago (and still ranked in the bottom three of market segments, just one segment ahead of a year ago, and still within a few points of the lowest-rated segment; see Figures 3 and 4).