As the HIT Policy Committee and its certification workgroup grapple with the fate of CCHIT, many discuss the importance of providing buyers with a “Good Housekeeping” seal of approval. Few, however, directly admit that what they really want is already being produced in the form of KLAS reports. Leafing through one of the organization’s two main vendor performance reviews is a fascinating exercise for any industry observer, or critical for any potential buyer of a multi-, multi-million dollar system. In light of KLAS’ unique role in the industry, HCI Editor-in-Chief Anthony Guerra recently grabbed a few minutes with President Adam Gale to talk about the trends roiling healthcare IT.
GUERRA: You and I both spoke at a venture capital lunch at HIMSS, and we discussed the idea that non-healthcare companies might try and position themselves to tap this HITECH-fueled market. Have you seen much of that? Have you seen a lot of vaporware recently?
GALE: The closest thing I’m seeing to vaporware today is some of the claims around HIEs and RHIOs that deal with connectivity of data and moving clinical data from place to place. I mean, there are real people who are doing it today, but it seems like I’ve seen some very unsubstantiated claims. I know a lot of people are looking at these two things together – both gaining meaningful use in hospitals and the connectivity part of moving clinical information around. That’s going to be the tougher one to sort out because you can hide the realities.
In fact, this is the space where we are going be doing some of our own homework to really call out who’s able to do it and who’s not. I haven’t seen many new people come out and say, “Hey, we can do your inpatient EMR,” just because I think people would be so skeptical. Although I have seen two or three international vendors knocking on the door saying, “Hey, is now a good time for us to step into the industry?” Our advice to them has been no, it’s not a good time, because if you aren’t already someone that people would trust, there’s already enough players fighting it out for the non-Epic wins, if you will.
Although, on the ambulatory side, I think there will be this ramp up in the number of options out there before it gets pared down to a realistic number. We’ve already got 100+ that are CCHIT certified and I don’t know that there’s room for 100. I’m not sure they can make enough money to survive and support their products well enough and keep moving forward. What that number is, I’m not exactly sure, but 100 seems a little hard to imagine.
GUERRA: During some of the HIT Policy Committee meetings, I’ve heard people say that certification should have a usability or user-review component. Doesn’t that take the government dangerously close to your core business?
GALE: Absolutely. There are a number of CIOs that have come to us and said, “Why would we waste our time building this for a second time when it already exists?” We’ve had a number of calls with CCHIT to talk about how we might do this or help them do this. It’s possible that the government would want to get into this and have a separate measurement, such as “does it work,” or “is it implementable,” or “is the vendor good in implementing?” We’d rather not have the government waste their money doing that. In fact, we’re not interested in making a lot of money off of doing that; we’d rather just say let’s not spend our money building this again. How can we use KLAS data to share it to do some good. Maybe that’s a little Pollyannaish, but we’re very interested in potentially tying to that in a way that we don’t build the same thing twice, especially having the government do it once. I’ve never really seen the government do anything better than the private industry can, typically.
GUERRA: I couldn’t agree with you more, but let’s not get into politics (laughing). Now I understand that you may be willing to share some of your data, but you’ve created a very valuable business by selling it. You wouldn’t want to give that up, I assume?
GALE: You’re right. I don’t know exactly how that would work, but the reality is we have a lot of this already. It’s not something we have to go build from scratch, so there could be some way where we leverage a piece of what we already have so CCHIT and KLAS can work together. That might be where they provide a functionality checkbox for the customer and KLAS could check the box indicating if the vendor had actually implemented the product outside of one or two core sites, maybe where it was built, for example, and indicating if the vendor is actually set up to support it, implement it, and move the technology forward with new releases and enhancements.
That could be a KLAS checkbox where we give a green light or give a red light or something. We haven’t really gone too far down that path other than a lot of CIOs have pushed us to say, “Look, let’s not waste our time having to answer these kind of questions twice.”