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Survey: 16 Percent of Ambulatory Physicians Looking to Replace EHR Vendor

January 9, 2018
by Heather Landi
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It is widely known that many physicians are dissatisfied with their electronic health record (EHR) system and a new survey examines EHR satisfaction according to physicians. The survey found that 11 percent of physicians working in acute facilities and 16 percent of physicians working in ambulatory facilities are looking to replace their vendor.

Reaction Data, an American For,k Utah-based firm that provides Research as a Service, conducted an EHR satisfaction survey with feedback from close to 900 physicians. Reaction Data’s research report, based on survey results from 889 physicians across many specialties, also drills down into the 10 most used EHR companies and indicates those vendors’ acute and ambulatory user rates, average facility bed count, average facility revenue and facility type.

The survey reflects the opinions of physicians in numerous specialties—21 percent are pediatricians, 12 percent specialize in internal medicine, 11 percent specialize in anesthesiology, and the remaining cited specialties such as psychiatry, emergency medicine, orthopedic surgery, family medicine, neurology, urology and endocrinology. Almost 40 percent of respondents are physician-owned practices or clinics, 29 percent are hospital affiliated with an integrated delivery network (IDN), 17 percent are practice or clinic owned by an IDN or health system and 14 percent are standalone hospitals. And, 43 percent of respondents work in acute facilities while 57 percent work in ambulatory settings.

Epic is by far the largest company used among the respondents—61 percent of acute care physicians use Epic and 22 percent of ambulatory providers use the Verona, Wis.-based company’s EHR system. Among the respondents, Cerner, Allscripts, Meditech, athenahealth and eClinicalWorks are all widely used.

The survey examined replacement rates among physicians and found that 11 percent of acute facilities are leaving their current EHR vendor and 16 percent of ambulatory facilities are looking to replace their current vendor. EHR vendors winning replacement business, according to the survey, including Epic (cited by 33 percent of respondents), Cerner (18 percent), athenahealth (7 percent), Allscripts (5 percent) and eClinicalWorks (5 percent).

The report authors note that, for better or worse, EHRs have become, in many ways, the operating system of a healthcare organization. And while it’s widely known that many physicians are very dissatisfied with their EHR systems, the research report authors note that “amongst this general milieu of dissatisfaction there are pockets of physicians that are genuinely happy with their EHR.”

“And, it's incredibly important to note that even the most publicly maligned EHR vendor has some organizations and physician users who are truly happy with them,” the report authors wrote.

Interesting to note, eClinicalWorks, an EHR vendor that is currently facing legal troubles including class action lawsuits from providers and its $155 million settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice to resolve a False Claims Act lawsuit, had high customer ratings, according to this report. More than half (53 percent) of respondents who use eClinicalWorks’ EHR were classified as “Advocates,” and said they would recommend their vendor to a peer or colleague. Survey participants were asked, on a scale of 0 to 10, how likely they were to recommend their vendor to a peer or colleague—Fence Sitters were those who responded with a 5 or 6 and Advocates were those who responded with a 7 to 10.

The report also looks at the specific demographics of each vendor’s happiest customers. For instance, among eClinicalWorks’ happiest customers, the average bed count is 568 and the average physician count is 291. However, the report also notes that even though eClinicalWorks operates almost exclusively in the ambulatory space, many of their customers are part of hospital systems and as such were reporting on the size of the inpatient organization as well as the size of the outpatient group.

Forty-five percent of respondents who use Epic said they were happy with their vendor, and 22 percent were Fence Sitters.

Practice Fusion, the San Francisco-based vendor that provides a cloud-based EHR to small, independent physician offices, had a high customer rating, with 70 percent of users happy with the vendor and would recommend the vendor to their peers or colleagues. Allscripts just announced it was acquiring Practice Fusion for $100 million, which extends Allscripts’ reach into the ambulatory space. However, only 16 percent of Allscripts’ users were classified as Advocates, or that they would recommend the vendor to their peer or colleagues, and 12 percent were Fence Sitters. According to the report, the majority of Allscripts’ happiest customers are ambulatory facilities, based on the ratings that were given.

For athenahealth, 39 percent of users are happy with the vendor, or classified as Advocates, and 19 percent are Fence Sitters. Among Cerner users, 22 percent of overall users are Advocates and would recommend the vendor to peers and colleagues, and 22 percent are on the fence. For GE Healthcare, 47 percent of the company’s EHR users said they were happy with their vendor and 27 percent said they were on the fence.

For Meditech, only 15 percent of the company’s EHR users said they were happy with the vendor and 23 percent said they were on the fence. Among NextGen customers, about a quarter said they were recommend the vendor to their peers and colleagues and almost one-third (30 percent) were on the fence about the vendor.

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