Selecting an EMR Vendor

I know that sometimes people don’t like the analogy’s I make on this site. However, I just can’t help but make them. I find them instructive and there’s nothing wrong with people disagreeing with me. In fact, that’s often where I learn the most.

In the comments of a previous post, I was discussing some of the common issues with large EMR vendors (I like to call them Jabba the Hutt EMR vendors). Namely: backlog of training and setup, slow EMR support response times, HUGE up front costs for the EMR, etc etc etc. I’m sure that many of you are familiar with these subjects. For example, you pay a HUGE up front fee, get to wait 6 months to get trained on the EMR (EMR backlog?) and then once you implement your support calls take forever to get responses from the EMR vendor. Unfortunately, this is far too common.

What I don’t get is why people continue to go through this pain.

A few years back I was talking with someone about eating out at restaurants in Las Vegas. Someone was complaining about the wait times at a restaurant to get a table. Then, a long time Las Vegas resident commented that her husband and her NEVER wait for a table in Las Vegas. She then explained that there are SOOO many restaurants in Las Vegas, that if one has a wait they would just go to another one.

Obviously, the comparison to an EMR isn’t perfect, but the number of EMR choices is plentiful and you do have a choice to go with another solution. Sure, your EMR is an absolutely critical decision. You don’t want to make it lightly. However, that’s exactly why I don’t understand users that want to take a $50k-100k+ risk on an EMR software which can barely even support their implementation in the first place.

Is there EMR product really that much more compelling than the other 300+ EMR vendors?

There are plenty of low cost monthly alternatives that have exemplary support out there. The phrase “Buyer be ware” was never more true than with the purchase and selection of an EMR vendor. Don’t be swayed by great marketing and sales people. Take your time and find the right EMR and the right EMR vendor.

About the author

John Lynn

John Lynn

John Lynn is the Founder of the, 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,, 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.


  • Hopitals are the quintessential pragmatist buyers, and will typically purchase an EMR only if most of the other hospitals in their category are using it–even if it is buggy, riddled with duplicative meaningless tasks, ignorant of work flow and devoid of support. This explains the otherwise unfathomable success of Meditech. Certification requirements will exacerbate this behavior.

  • I recently bought a digital hearing aid. I didn’t buy directly from the vendor, but from an audiologist who knows which brands are good and which are not. He stays in business by knowing the market for such devices, and recommending only reputable products to his customers.

    Perhaps, the EMR industry could use such intermediaries.

  • I had very good luck with OpenEMR. The learning curve is steep, but short.

    As far as having an intermediary, I think people are better off researching and choosing their own.

  • “Is there EMR product really that much more compelling than the other 300+ EMR vendors?”

    There are maybe 10 – 12 seriously viable products/vendors out there. Anything else is indeed very much like spending your money in Las Vegas…..

  • Finding the right EMR system is not easy. There are hundreds of choices and the consequences of choosing the wrong EMR system can cause serious financial harm. Implementation difficulties, collection issues, and corrupted or lost patient data could result in losses of hundreds of thousands of dollars, even for the smallest practices.

    So, we launched a new online service called WireTap ( “the Yelp for Medical software products” as the premier social destination to help medical professionals rate, review, and buy medical software. WireTap allows users to leverage the expertise of others to make informed purchasing decisions by a giving them access to the real experiences and opinions of their peers. Simply put, we believe that we are in an era where you should trust your peers more than brands – feedback and customer success is what builds great product brands, not the other way around.

    WireTap was just launched into beta in July 2010 and has grown to 80 active members quickly and 80 medical products. We look forward to your participation. Your feedback on your EMR will help thousands of other doctors worldwide make better informed decisions when selecting their EMR solutions.

  • Having a monster EHR software program with the wait times and issues you describe is certainly not good for the provider.

    Local support and training from an “in your town” vendor certainly will provide quicker and more satisfying results. Of course, this could backfire if you don’t select correctly.

    The safety of the monster vendor is that they won’t go out of business, so I’m sure some providers will put up with the negative aspects to gain safety.

    In our case, we’re a small EHR sales office in Lubbock, TX but rep a national product, Sage Intergy EHR. This gives our clients the advantages of both worlds, having the safety of a monster product while still receiving timely local support. It’s worked for us so far having been around for 28 years. Alfred–

  • Alfred,
    “The safety of the monster vendor is that they won’t go out of business”

    Unfortunately, size doesn’t even guarantee this either. Ask all the Misys users out there about their experience. That was a very large EMR vendor. They got purchased by Allscripts and now their EMR software is being sunset. So, they’re stuck having to switch. Same thing is likely to happen with Eclipsys ambulatory software too.

  • Good point but in this case it was an acquisition. I think were going to see more industry consolidation going forward. The question will be how Allscripts handles the transition. They could do it well or they could do it badly.

    In our market, the County Hospital / University received $6.6m from the government to roll out EHR’s to the PCP’s in West Texas. The PCP’s are expected to contribute $10k – $25k of the cost. The other non County Hospital just rolled out Allscripts to their 200 physicians and have been talking about rolling this out to the non employee physicians in our community.

    It will be interesting to see how these monster sized organizations will try to scale large applications and large processes into a smooth implementation for a small to medium sized practice.

    I think this is where we come in as our norm in West Texas market is working with small and medium sized providers with our Sage Intergy EHR software. Our local personal support with our “mega” capable” national software product is a great fit for the small to medium sized provider. They won’t get lost in the shuffle. Alfred

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