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KLAS: athenahealth, Epic Lead Way for Ambulatory EMR Usability

June 6, 2013
by Gabriel Perna
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A new report from the Orem, Utah-based KLAS Research indicates that when it comes to usability for ambulatory electronic medical record (EMR) systems, athenahealth (Watertown, Mass.) and Epic Systems (Verona, Wisc.) are the industry’s cream of the crop. The report’s authors found that despite the fact they serve different client types, the two vendors rated high in usability across six different clinical areas.

The report’s authors, who interviewed 163 providers to accumulate its information, found that athenahealth’s ambulatory software as a service (SaaS) solution for various sized practices had the highest rating of usability at go live and current state. The SaaS product, KLAS found, allows for less modification than some would like, but even still, the company had the highest usability in various clinical functions such as physician documentation.

Sixty-nine percent of providers rated athenahealth’s EMR as “ready-to-use” out of the gate, and 85 percent of providers said its usability was high today. “Being rated as the most usable EHR and as the best at driving provider effectiveness and efficiencies, it doesn’t get much better than that,” Jonathan Bush, athenahealth’s CEO, said in a statement.

Epic had moderate to strong usability at go live, but most were happy after the adjustment period. Epic’s system “excels at guiding providers,” the researchers found, and it’s “highly configurable and often customized.”

On the low end of the scale, McKesson had irked more than half of its clients who were unhappy with the go-live usability. Most, the report’s authors found, remained displeased with the product, citing poor code quality and weak support.  

The report mentioned how providers believe that meaningful use requirements distract vendors from developing physician friendly functionality. "The financial investment in EMR technology can be large for providers, but this investment pales in comparison to the outlay in effort providers are making to customize the products to achieve high usability,” stated report author Mark Wagner.

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