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Best in KLAS: The Time is Now

March 1, 2013
by David Raths
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Best in KLAS Awards: Pressured by meaningful use deadlines, providers reward vendors offering integrated platforms

Besides reflecting customers’ experience with so many aspects of healthcare-focused software systems, the annual “Best in KLAS Awards: Software & Services” report offers a fascinating snapshot of an industry in flux. Thousands of healthcare providers share their candid feedback about the reality of healthcare technology solutions with KLAS, which uses that input to paint a picture of how well the technology suppliers are responding to their needs. Stacked side by side, the 15 annual Best in KLAS reports tell a story of the growth of the health information technology industry.

In fact, just looking over the list of market segments that are new to the report in 2012 gives us an idea of how the market is changing. They include clinical decision support, point-of-use inventory management, and vendor-neutral archives, as well as health information exchange consulting.

This year, impatience may be the word that best sums up the mood of many providers who are feeling pressure from meaningful use deadlines. As an August 2012 KLAS study entitled “Clinical Market Share 2012: Meaningful Use Momentum Continues” noted, providers who might normally be patient with their vendors feel they can’t afford to wait.

“They want an integrated platform with stable meaningful use functionality that their physicians won’t fight them over,” notes KLAS report author Colin Buckley. Additionally, meaningful use deadlines are forcing some providers back to the market sooner than expected.”

What follows is an analysis of the report, with comments from KLAS researchers, other analysts and consultants, and some customers, turning the numbers in the charts back into personal observations.

Acute Care EMR

In the acute care EMR market, all the vendors and their customers have been incredibly busy retooling their functions and features to chase meaningful use deadlines. But the real story has been that Epic and Cerner have separated themselves from the pack largely due to how tightly integrated their systems are. And Epic’s EpicCare Inpatient EMR continues to lead the rest of the companies in this segment in terms of Overall Score by more than 12 points. One hundred percent of its customers said they would buy the product again.

“It’s true that Epic is winning a lot of the new business,” says Coray Tate, KLAS research director. “You continue to hear from customers that the staff they bring in are young and smart and well trained. If you run into problems, they rally the troops and are right there with you. You don’t hear about perfection, but the customer satisfaction is still there.

Cerner has its pieces put together well and has grown much more consistent in terms of supporting its customers, Tate says. “Some customers find Cerner appealing because it works hard at being innovative—for instance, connecting smart pumps to the EMR,” he adds. Yet Cerner has been hampered because its accounting module is not seen as strong.

Other vendors such as Allscripts, McKesson, MEDITECH, and Siemens are signing new customers too, yet CIOs of larger hospitals are drawn toward higher levels of integration and clinical functionality—and they want them now.

Those competitors see the success Epic is having, Tate says, and are trying to work through issues or build out a similar approach of a tightly integrated platform. For instance, some customers are very excited about Siemens’ Soarian architecture, but were concerned about the lack of an ambulatory or emergency department module.  Siemens has tried to fill those holes in its portfolio with partnerships, Tate adds.

In late 2011, McKesson announced that although it would not “sunset” its Horizon product, its Paragon Clinicals would be its main product line going forward. Paragon has been successful in the community hospital space, and although it is just starting to penetrate the larger hospital space, it did quite well in terms of rating in this Best of KLAS, at No. 3, so it merits close attention, Tate says.

The report suggests that MEDITECH’s Version 6 has not been as well received by customers as the company would have liked. “It is a new product and still maturing,” Tate explains. Their customers have been very loyal over the years, and the product has been stable even if it didn’t have all the bells and whistles. But as EHRs have begun to move from a data repository to more of a clinical tool, customers’ expectations have risen, and CIOs are saying this has not been as smooth a transition as they would have liked. “It is not just an upgrade; it is a new platform,” Tate says. “So some customers are saying, since I have to move to a whole new platform from Magic, maybe it is time to look at my other options.”

Customers of Allscripts’ Sunrise Clinical Manager are concerned about the turmoil the company has seen recently, including the departure of CEO Glen Tullman. But they don’t seem to be panicking, Tate says. “They have a product they like and they want to see the company succeed. But now is the time for the company to put up or shut up.”

Tate notes that GE Healthcare, whose overall score fell another 15 percent, has been up front with its customers that Centricity had some problems that the company needs to fix. “They lost a large portion of their customer base,” he says. They have worked with Intermountain and Microsoft on some innovations, but it remains to be seen when those might come to market.”

Dan Kinsella


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