Rating Top EMR Companies

Lately I’ve been really intrigued by the concept of trying to rate the long list of EMR vendors in order to identify the “Top EMR Companies.” I guess I’ve been intrigued by this idea for a number of reasons.

First, tons of people are searching the internet and finding this website in their search for the top EMR vendors. Makes a lot of sense that doctors would want to narrow down their search for an EMR since it’s just unreasonable for them to try and review 300+ EMR vendors. Although, I do think it’s a little bit funny that they think they can just enter “top EMR vendors” into Google to find the answer.

Second, I’ve seen a number of groups touting an EMR vendor showcase with the “top EMR vendors.” The problem I have with this is that how can they say that they’re the top EMR vendors. More than likely these organization took the EMR vendors they had connections with and allowed them to present. In fact, in this case, I know one EMR vendor gets to present because they’ve made those connections. This is all well and good, but that’s not really “top EMR vendors” in my book.

Finally, a number of EMR vendors are interested in having some sort of “top EMR vendor” rating. Kind of a stamp of approval that they have a high quality EMR system. EHR certification has attempted to give this assurance. The problem there is that EHR certification doesn’t actually rate the top EMR vendor. It just tests a list of criteria which can easily be gamed and does little to measure the usability or actual clinical acceptance of that software product.

No doubt there’s a desire to try and have a “top rated EMR comany” list. The real question is how do you go about making a list like this?

I don’t know all the details around JD Power and Associates, but I think that many EMR vendors and physicians alike would love to give that type of stamp of approval that an EMR vendor’s software meets some standard level. However, I think just a general stamp with no other data just feels empty to me. It’s almost like you need to rate and provide qualitative feedback on various rating areas. Otherwise, the stamp of approval has little value to doctors and clinics trying to select an EMR.

Beyond that, it almost seems like there needs to be an evaluation or verification with existing users of the EMR. They’re the ones who really know how well an EMR functions, how responsive the support people are, and how usable the EMR system really is. Of course, this would require talking to multiple users of an EMR system and not just the company shills (excuse the term). Definitely a challenge.

Beyond that, it seems wrong to just provide a general rating for an EMR. For example, one EMR vendor might be great for general medicine, but might be horrible for an OB/GYN. It’s almost like you need to rate the EMR vendor based on various specialties to provide real value. Not to mention, adding in things like size of the organization, location of the organization, etc. There’s a lot of factors that would drastically change the rating of an EMR vendor.

Of course, the other problem with the concept of “top EMR companies” is that any EMR company could be the top. What are they the top of? Are they the top implemented EMR vendor? Are they the top customer support EMR vendor? Are they the top specialist EMR vendor? Are they the top SaaS based EMR vendor? etc etc etc

Obviously, I don’t yet have all the answers to this problem. Although, I’m very interested in the idea. More importantly, I’m interested in finding ways to provide valuable information like “top rated EMR vendors” that could help doctors select the right EMR. Seems like RECs could benefit from this information as well.

About the author

John Lynn

John Lynn

John Lynn is the Founder of HealthcareScene.com, a network of leading Healthcare IT resources. The flagship blog, Healthcare IT Today, contains over 13,000 articles with over half of the articles written by John. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 20 million times.

John manages Healthcare IT Central, the leading career Health IT job board. He also organizes the first of its kind conference and community focused on healthcare marketing, Healthcare and IT Marketing Conference, and a healthcare IT conference, EXPO.health, focused on practical healthcare IT innovation. John is an advisor to multiple healthcare IT companies. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can be found on Twitter: @techguy.


  • How you find this out? A company referred to as KLAS does this currently. They find it out by manually calling up just about every executive at the various organizations across the states to find out how they would rate their vendor. This is usually pretty solid data because it comes straight from the horse’s mouth, those who have already spent money on the EMR software and have no incentive to gloss over the gory details. I completely agree that folks shouldn’t be searching google and going with the top results for a keyword group like “top emr vendor”. This will inevitably be filled with folks from consulting companies that make a buck by making a recommendation (full disclosure – I am a consultant and owner of a emr consulting firm). An EMR vendor should be found based on word of mouth recommendations, solid software, and a history of good outcomes…not based on their ability to SEO (search engine optimize for those healthcare folks reading this 🙂

  • It becomes more and more difficult to trust the reviews of these companies who rate EMR’s. Many of them have the opportunity to rate it based on under the table offerings rather than credible data. REC’s should require docs who take advantage of the REC to give 3 month, 6 month, and 1 year evaluations on the EMR they are implementing. Rating everything from implementation, to support, to functionality for their practice. Just a though…

  • The problem with KLAS is that companies pay a very large sum of money for the privilege of participating, so there end up being many HIT vendors with great products that are not considered in the mix. This is much different from J.D. Power’s research, which, according to its website, is “funded and owned by the firm and based on aggregate responses of consumer perceptions of product quality and customer satisfaction.” KLAS’ pay-to-play methodology, while helpful for comparing users’ experiences with those vendors that participate, does not offer an objective, comprehensive comparison of all HIT products on the market.

  • Aaron,
    I know very few people that really like the data that KLAS provides. I have a post about KLAS and their interaction with an EHR vendor that I’ve had in draft form for a while. Over the next week, I’ll see if I can’t finish it up and post it. It shed some really interesting light on the value of KLAS data and also the influence of KLAS (or lack therof).

    Jennifer aptly described many of the other problems with KLAS ratings. Plus, from what I’ve seen is that the more people dive into the KLAS EMR ratings process the more problems they find with what they’re offering.

    Obviously, I’m not sure of the better solution. In fact, that was kind of the motivation of this post. I’m interested to hear a way to create EMR ratings that is sustainable while still providing valuable data to the doctors who are selecting an EMR.

    Brad, I like your REC idea. So much so that I wrote a whole post talking about the concept: https://www.healthcareittoday.com/2010/04/22/possible-rec-business-model/

    Aaron, it does seem like we agree on the right way to select an EMR (not a simple google search for top rated EMR companies). I dive into a lot of the details you listed in my e-Book on EMR selection: https://www.healthcareittoday.com/emr-selection-book/

  • I definitely agree with everyone on their criticisms of KLAS. I have never liked how expensive it was to get access to their reports, not even including the amount vendors pay to get rated. They also have some restrictions based on the number of deployments of an application so all those things lead to a very poor gauge of how good the smaller vendors are in the space. All that being said, I think they are doing a better job than anyone else that I am aware of. It does take a lot of effort to collect the data and I can understand, somewhat, how they would charge folks to be reviewed. EMR implementations are so vast in their reach at organizations that it would be hard to get reliable feedback from anyone but the upper echelon because they will be the only folks in a position to see the big picture impacts of the software and the vendor. These people do not have a lot of time to be giving reviews to everyone who calls them up.
    I mainly speak from the large organization perspective because that is who I primarily work with. For the small practices and vendors it might be feasible to have a “J.D. Power approach” to rating the software, but we are dealing with millions and sometimes billions of dollars being spent on these implementations. With that much money on the table one might want to stick with a vendor who can pony up the money to get reviewed be KLAS  This may also be the reason that KLAS is still in business.
    (Note: I do not have any ties to KLAS and have never met anyone from there)

  • “It does take a lot of effort to collect the data and I can understand, somewhat, how they would charge folks to be reviewed.”

    Describes it well. Doesn’t feel right that they charge for it, but hard to find a better model.

    “EMR implementations are so vast in their reach at organizations that it would be hard to get reliable feedback from anyone but the upper echelon because they will be the only folks in a position to see the big picture impacts of the software and the vendor.”

    I think that you need both perspectives. The upper echelon won’t likely understand things like the usability of the EMR system.

    Luckily, I generally prefer the smaller EMR systems and so the higher echelon and lower aren’t that far apart. Although, I still argue that it’s best to get perspectives from all depts (doctors, nurses, front desk, etc). An EMR affects them all so it’s good to get feedback from all of them. Getting quality feedback from some of those users is actually the hardest part.

  • Oh yes, and EVERY EMR vendor COULD pay for the KLAS rating. I don’t think an EMR vendor should be discounted because they decide there’s little value in getting rated by KLAS. It’s a marketing decision for an EMR company more than it is a way to improve their EMR software.

  • The author of this article makes the point that it’s impossible to rate an EMR-EHR/PM system due to the simple fact that it’s all relative to your needs.

    However, you can rate a software vendor on other important factors that are not related to the software and are more objective. For example, how long have they been around, percent of revenue that comes from software, percent of revenue spent on R&D/new development, number of employees, locality, financial performance, etc.

    From there, you make a “short list” of a half-dozen or so vendors to investigate further. Find out through word of mouth and customer testimonials how well the software works in a similar environment, what was the implementation like (on time, on budget), and how is post-implementation support?

    After you’ve weeded the list down to 2-4 vendors, provide them with a detailed Request for Proposal with specific functionality requirements and invite them to your offices to provide a demo of how their software satisfies each requirement. It’s easy for salespeople to say “ya, our software does that” and another thing them to SHOW YOU HOW it works. You may not like their method of skinning a cat, so-to-speak.

    Have key busines owners and stakeholders in the room to score each vendor on each requirement. This makes the decision-making process more quantitative and objective. Total all scores and rank the vendors based on how well you liked the way the softare met/did not meet your requirements.

    From there, you’ll have a top two vendors to start your negotations with and plenty of information to use as leverage (e.g. Vendor A has more robust functionality in Charting, yet they’re less expensive).

    This is how I recommend selecting any enterprise or mission critical software, such as an EMR-EHR/PM system.

    Happy Implementation!


  • Dennis,
    Thanks for sharing that process. I just would clarify one thing about this article. The assertion isn’t that a user can’t rank the top EMR companies. The assertion from this article is that you can’t do it well for everyone or said another way, one clinic’s ranking might be completely different from another clinic’s ranking.

    Certainly when we’re talking about an individual clinic or one company you can and should rank the various EMR providers as part of the EMR selection process. You just shouldn’t look to some third party ranking that knows nothing about your clinic and your needs to rank them for you.

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