Is the right EHR even out there yet?

September 3, 2013 in Medical Technology

When Mike Taylor was shopping for a new electronic health record system, vendors boldly sat across the table from him and said flat-out that they won’t integrate with other EHRs. 

For Taylor, CIO at Roper St. Francis, a Charleston, S.C.-based health network, a McKesson shop with Allscripts installed at hospice and home health environments, the next question met a similar fate. What about the interfaces?

“We don’t interface with Allscripts,” Taylor recounted being told by a major vendor. “You just have to buy our product.” Taylor added “obviously that didn’t work for us.”

And that is just one of many harsh realities prospective customers face when trying to choose an EHR.

[See also: Health systems underestimate time, cost of EMR rollouts.]

“It’s been extremely frustrating when you sit down to select one,” Taylor continued. “There’s not a one-size fits all vendor in the marketplace, nor do I think there ever will be nor do I think that’s healthy. But the inability to take the best of each and pull them together to do what you’re trying to do for healthcare and the patient, that’s the frustrating piece.”

The EHR landscape, peppered with software programs that for reasons technological as well as proprietary or financially-driven do not interoperate, integrate or even interface with each other, will get better in time, of course, as most markets invariably do — but when?

Disjointed nature

Among the concerns Taylor rattled off about the current state of EHRs, in addition to how hard it is to select, purchase and implement, is not being able to get a complete picture of patients, and the difficulty of knowing how long the next EHR will effectively serve its purpose.

“I’m concerned because I get the question if whatever we move to we’ll be on 10-15 years, but I have trouble thinking beyond five,” Taylor said. “I don’t mean to be flippant about it but what else are you gonna do? There are only so many players in the market and we’re starting to see that shake out.”

[See also: Object of beauty, or ungainly nuisance?.]

Indeed, the EHR market is “agitated” and “unstable” according to a report published in late July by Black Book. Based on Black Book’s and other firms’ research little doubt remains that many healthcare organizations are either planning to or are already in the process of switching EHR vendors. It’s worth noting that Black Book targeted replacement EHR buyers in its polling of 2,880 — and 81 percent of respondents are, in fact, planning to drop one EHR in favor of a newer model.

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