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athenahealth Resigns From EHR Association

April 23, 2014
by Rajiv Leventhal
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Cloud-based electronic health record (EHR) vendor athenahealth will resign from the EHR Association (EHRA), stating they never really belonged in the first place because the Watertown, Mass.-based company is neither an EHR company, nor a software vendor.

The company’s public policy priorities are broader and more varied than those of the traditional software vendors that run the EHRA—and even where their priorities overlap, too often athena is on opposite sides of crucially important debates, it said in a news release. For example, athenahealth advocates for aggressive timelines and high standards, where the opposite is true for the EHRA as many of their members’ static software systems are unable to meet timelines and standards as seen with meaningful use, its officials said.

The HIMSS EHR Association is a trade association of EHR companies, addressing national efforts to create interoperable EHRs in hospital and ambulatory care settings. Founded in 2004, a strong majority of its members are legacy software vendors. In a statement, the vendor’s officials said, “athenahealth is not going to convince EHRA to advocate against the interests of a majority of its own members, nor should athena try to do so. athena's goals and interests are simply different from theirs, which is why athena has terminated their membership.”

Additional comments from Dan Haley, vice president of government affairs, on the company’s blog confirmed that athenahealth felt out of place in the EHRA. “We operate as a services company that offers a cloud-based EHR as just one enabling component of our extensive suite of health IT services. With this effort, we’re not seeking to create a competitor to the EHRA so much as a higher-performing alternative—just as cloud-based health IT is increasingly viewed as a higher-performing alternative to anachronistic, static software platforms. One might say we’re performing a ‘rip and replace’ on our own outdated trade association. If we can influence policy to better encourage innovation—to ultimately benefit care throughout the nation—perhaps a critical mass of caregivers will follow our lead.”

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