Choosing an EHR Vendor: Are You Viable?

There is no shortage of choices when it comes to electronic health record (EHR) vendors. While the actual number is hard to confirm, there are literally hundreds. A look at one Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) approved certifier’s list indicates 469 different solutions that have met Stage 1 of Meaningful Use. So how to choose?

The latest data suggest that the first choice, however it was made, may not have been the right one. In a recent survey by Black Book Market Research, fully 23 percent of practices are unhappy enough to consider seeking a replacement to their current EHR. When you consider how busy today’s practices are, how much pressure they face to maintain − let alone grow − their revenues, as well as manage their costs, it is daunting to think that they must also find time to search a congested category of technology solutions once more. And this time with no margin for error.

So the criteria for EHR vendor selection comes back once more. In addition to client-server versus cloud-based platforms, pricing options, feature sets, support and service depth and commitment, there looms a fundamental business question… vendor viability. It is no longer a question for the new, emerging, private and promising vendors. There has been enough category churn over the years that vendor viability can fairly be asked of the large vendors, too. So how best to approach this question?

Vendor viability breaks down into two main categories: the viability of the company and the viability of the model. The first is about the company itself. How long has it been in business, how many customers does it serve, how many employees does it support, how is it funded and more? These are standard business metrics that are not specific to the health care IT category, let alone to electronic medical records. In this discussion, the scales commonly tip toward size and longevity.

But stopping here is not sufficient.

What should also be considered is the viability of the model. This is the engine that will drive future growth and sustainability. Is the model compelling to you as a potential customer? Is it differentiated from other solutions or is it one more of the same? How much of your business of managing a practice does it really address? What problems of yours is it solving? Is there value for you in their value proposition? Are their current customers satisfied…delighted? Would they purchase it all over again? These are the kinds of questions where size and tenure are not mapped. Instead the cardinal points are innovation, differentiation, impact and satisfaction.

At Hello Health, our EHR is but one, albeit very important, component of a broader cloud-based platform that seeks to revitalize a practice by generating new revenue and engaging patients in their health information and relationship with their primary care physician. That there is no cost for the doctor is innovative too but is only half of the financial story. Compensating doctors for their daily work that otherwise goes uncompensated is the rest. New Revenue™ is our vision and an EHR is an enabling element. And recognizing patients as consumers whose orientation to the web, online services, and access to their health information has changed is key to the value we strive to offer them.  As a result, our patient subscription model fundamentally links our success with the doctor’s success. In other words, partnership not vendorship.

So when it comes to vendor viability, ask about all the usual business metrics, but be sure to consider the competitiveness of the fundamental business model. Will it take them and you forward in the years to come?

About the Author
Stephen Armstrong

Stephen Armstrong is senior vice president for Hello Health, the revenue generating EHR platform for primary care practices supporting practice vitality through patient engagement.