One-on-One With Allscripts CEO Glen Tullman, Part II | Healthcare Informatics Magazine | Health IT | Information Technology Skip to content Skip to navigation

One-on-One With Allscripts CEO Glen Tullman, Part II

October 22, 2009
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In this part of our interview, Tullman says not all healthcare IT vendors really want interoperability.

TULLMAN: Right now, we’re trying to see what the final standards say. We have a number of different products that are certified today, that meet CCHIT standards. We’re going to see what the new standards are, what they require. We have three different products, an enterprise product for the largest users and integrated delivery networks and academic medical centers, a mid-range product for multi-specialty groups called Professional, then a product for the independent physician practices; one or two or five docs, and that’s called MyWay. Each of those three products we expect would meet certification, and those are the go-forward products in our strategy.

GUERRA: Are the Misys products included in that?

TULLMAN: Yes, depending on which Misys product. Remember, Misys’ biggest footprint is 110,000 practice management users. That’s the biggest part of the Misys base. All of those practice management systems are being supported. The question is on electronic health records, which electronic health records those Misys users will choose, and we are going to work with them to choose the ones that are best. For those folks who have a Misys electronic health record, we’re working with them closely to upgrade them to whichever of the solutions we have that fits best.

GUERRA: How do you retain as many customers as possible while switching them from one product, or version of a product, to another?

TULLMAN: Well, first of all we are investing a lot to make sure that the upgrade is seamless. I’ve used the example of switching cell phones, it can be painful or it can be easy, and that has less to do with the technology. It’s more to do with what’s the process surrounding it. If you heard on our call, we’ve invested millions of dollars in a program called Ready. Ready speeds not only implementation, but it helps to create, essentially, a factory approach for upgrades that says, “Look, we’ll get all your data upgraded, we’ll switch all your data instantly.”

So from that perspective, one, you never want to lose any customers – you make it easy. Second, keep in mind that in this economy, the idea that a physician practice is going to rip out a practice management system – that there is no stimulus dollars to replace – to put in a new one is really, really small. They just aren’t going to do it. What they want is to upgrade on top of that with an electronic health record, and if you go to the small practices, and that’s the predominant number of the Misys base. I always joke that they want one throat to choke, they want one number to call. They don’t want a practice management system from us and an electronic health record from someone else, because then when something breaks, everybody points fingers at the other guy. They want one system. Well, we can provide that and we do. So we’re working hard, we’re highly confident that we won’t lose customers and, in fact, we’ll gain a lot of customers.

GUERRA: I heard that the Version 11 initiative didn’t go quite as well as you might have hoped. What can you tell me about that?

TULLMAN: Well, we had the leading industry product in Version 10 and when we contemplated Version 11, we wanted to be able to take healthcare to the next level. Let me give you an example. In Version 11, when a physician enters a diagnosis, the system checks to see if there’s a clinical trial, and then pops up a message to the physician to say, “Did you know there’s a clinical trial for this patient?”

Now, that’s pretty fascinating because I’ve been in a situation where a family member missed a clinical trial because, even though the physician was very good, she told me that she couldn’t possibly track all of the clinical trials that were out there due to all the inclusion and exclusion criteria. But now, this new software really does information-enable physicians. It gives them the information they want. I mean, think of a system that would basically Google and answer all your questions if you’re a physician in real time. So that’s the good news.

The challenge is that when you have all those engines triggering searches and the like, that takes a lot of power. So if you put Version 11 in and you hadn’t upgraded all your servers and the like; it’s going to run slower. That would be a typical problem that we had. Similarly, Version 11 was very configurable, and so what people loved about it was you could do almost anything with it. One of the challenges when you put a product out there that allows users to do anything is that they actually do anything, and that makes it tougher to train on and tougher to service and the like.

So we had some challenges because of the power of the technology. It’s kind of like if you give a young person a racecar, and then you’re surprised when they get a ticket. They say, “All I was doing was doing exactly what you told me I could do with it.” So we had a little bit of that challenge. We’re over it now. Version 11 has made great progress, and I think people are doing some very compelling things with it.

GUERRA: I’m just wondering what the take away from there is. Is it, don’t give the kid a sports car, or when you give him the sports car, spend more time telling him how it needs to be used?

TULLMAN: I think it’s the latter. I think the lessons learned are, one, we want to give our users as much information and power as possible. There’s no question about that. But we could have been more prepared in educating the base about how to use it. Two, was to do a better job of educating our own people of how to train for it. So there were a lot of lessons learned and, as I said, people say, “Well, would you do it again?” Absolutely, because Allscripts is a leader in innovation, and if we don’t innovate who’s going to do it? I don’t see our competitors doing it.

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