After a recent survey by Black Book Rankings found that 17 percent of doctors want to switch their electronic health record (EHR) software, the company predicted that 2013 would be the year of the great EHR vendor switch. To gain some insight into why so many healthcare organizations are unhappy with their EHRs, we sat down with our National Sales Manager, Ron Shoop.
What are some of the main reasons healthcare organizations are switching EHR’s?
There are several reasons for the discontent, but I’m finding that most of the healthcare organizations (HCOs) I talk to are switching for one of three reasons.
Some fall into the “early adopter” crowd that’s still using what is referred to as a “legacy” EHR. These systems are limited in their technological capabilities and don’t deliver many of the advanced features that newer EHRs are able to deliver. In many cases, features are limited and interoperability is out of the question.
Others find themselves wanting to switch because they’re using “one-size-fits-all” platforms that don’t allow for flexibility or customization, which is something multi-specialty HCOs typically need. In these cases, interoperability can also be an issue, especially if the HCO wants to integrate with a third-party system. What happens is physicians will often find themselves on a long waiting list for an interface (if an interface is even possible) – and this can cause great difficulties, especially for organizations that are trying to manage data from multiple sources.
Finally, mobile platforms and cloud-based services are a common topic of conversation that I have with physicians and administrators alike. They want to be able to use their iOS or Android device and have it be integrated to their EHR/practice management system. If the software they’re using doesn’t allow them to do so, it can be a determining factor for wanting to make a change.
Does Meaningful Use have anything to do with physicians switching systems?
Most definitely! Physicians and hospitals that want to attest to Meaningful Use need a patient portal to be able to meet those requirements – but many EHR companies don’t even offer one. Of those that do, very few meet Meaningful Use requirements. Plus, a lot of the doctors I’ve spoken to that are in the market for a patient portal have seen the features of the software offered by their EHR vendor, and they are NOT impressed. The portals have limited feature sets, for example, and they aren’t user friendly. On top of that, many physicians simply aren’t happy dealing with their current EHR company because of negative past experiences – so they seek a third-party vendor.
Why are patient portals critical for Meaningful Use Stage 2?
With Meaningful Use, it’s all about being able to provide patients with access to their health records and improve communication between patients and providers. But when EHRs were first created, they weren’t meant to provide this kind of access. That’s why patient portal vendors have kind of stepped in – to help fill that role and be a conduit for Meaningful Use attestation.
Aside from Meaningful Use, though, there are countless other benefits that patient portals can provide. For example:
- Creation of new patient intake forms (patient intake software)
- Customized layout and design
- Integration of credit card processing systems
- Advertiser integration
- Patient education modules
- Downloadable PDF forms
Should physicians shopping for a replacement EHR consider an all-in-one EHR/Practice Management/Patient Portal solution?
An all-in-one solution can certainly be considered in the decision-making process, perhaps more so for smaller, single-provider practices that don’t want or need all the “bells and whistles.” If they don’t need any customization and can live with an “off-the-shelf” solution, an all-in-one system would be a good choice. But all-in-one systems don’t work for everyone. This is especially the case with practices and HCOs that know exactly what they’re looking for and have very specific features in mind. In cases such as these, it’s better to look for software systems that can offer exactly what you want and that can be customized to meet future needs.