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Black Book Survey: Tech Support a Difference Maker in EHR Selection, Loyalty

February 16, 2016
by Rajiv Leventhal
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Electronic health record (EHR) vendors that do not offer quality customer technical support stand to lose potential new customers, as well established clients, according to a new survey from Black Book Market Research.

Indeed, price and features are no longer the only driving factors of EHR replacement competition, according to nearly 2,200 health IT users responding in a Q4 2015 Black Book survey. Vendors must also provide an overall greater technical support experience after the sales are made to keep customers happy and loyal, but many pass the duty on to outsourcers, respondents said.

According to the user results, EHR firms not offering internally, or through a competent partnering IT support firm, an impressing customer technical support experiences stand to lose potential new customers, as well established clients. More than eight in 10 (82 percent) of hospitals surveyed now insist comprehensive outsourced tech support from their EHR vendor will be a leading competitive differentiator in 2016, and a third of those are not presently pleased.

The usage of outsourced tech support centers is expanding quickly in the healthcare provider sector. Sixteen percent of hospital respondents outsource at least half of their tech support needs currently. By year end 2016, 35 percent of hospitals over 100 beds expect to increase their tech support outsourcing spend by 100 percent.

And, the expertise and quality of tech support services offered are weighing heavily on users’ overall loyalty, according to the research. Sixty-one percent of hospital users prefer that their EHR provide direct, comprehensive tech support, while 79 percent of those employing third party outsourcing tech support are significantly dissatisfied with their outsourcer’s level of response and the quality of their services.

Overseas offshored tech support centers scored the worst among healthcare providers on EHR, health information exchange (HIE), analytics and other applications. Ninety-seven percent of physicians practices and 93 percent of hospitals overwhelmingly prefer U.S.-based, American-English speaking representatives. Everyone from both surveyed groups confirmed that negative offshore experiences from outsourced tech support firms (either partnered with or provided by their HIS vendor) have tarnished the users’ overall perception of the vendor’s brand and product lines.

Cerner was determined to be the only EHR/HIT offering comprehensive, full, four level technical support with established clients among the 2,200 survey participants in Q4 2015. “Enterprise tech support is a highly complex and niche area in healthcare, where specialists can make a big difference in client loyalty by catering from Level 1 to Level 4 product support to ensure all the provider’s business goals are aligned with technology readiness,” Doug Brown, managing partner of Black Book, said in a news release statement.

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