EMR Vanity Metrics

I’m still mulling over my post on EMR and EHR about EMR market share. Add in my mulling over my post about creating an EMR pricing comparison website and my mind is kind of overwhelmed with ways to try and get providers better information.

One of my hobbies is learning about internet startup companies. In fact, I’m starting one of my own. In my reading about internet startup companies I found this really provocative post by Eric Ries about entrepreneur speakers lying on stage. Here’s the money quote for me:

This is the same issue we see with vanity metrics: companies are giving the appearance of sharing information while actually engaging in spin or outright deception.

I call this the vanity ratio: the amount of apparently interesting information given divided by the amount of useful information contained therein. The higher the vanity ratio, the more effective the PR. Unfortunately – also – the more misleading the story is as a help to others.

Of course, since I’d just recently written the post I linked above about EMR market share, I quickly drew the line to EMR vanity metrics. Or as Eric Ries might say it, EMR vendors lying about their market share.

I really don’t know any way to solve this problem since Eric is right that the vanity ratio applies. The higher the vanity ratio, the more effective the PR. I guess the key is to educate providers about the skewed numbers that EMR vendors like to provide. These posts are my effort.

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.


  • The only way to find marketshare is to call each individual vendor posing as an administrator interested in their product. They will be happy to brag about their numbers.

  • For me market share of a product or service is only important to me if I am an investor. Prospective clients may be interested in a particular vendor’s market share to make themselves feel good about their choice.

  • Justin,
    The problem is that I don’t want them bragging about their vanity numbers. I want how many people are actually really fully using their EMR product.

    Market share can be one possible indication of stability of an EHR vendor. Relative market share is even more. Which could be one way of saying that the company is still making sales. That’s a valuable thing to know since companies that are still making sales have more cash to pour back into the product.

  • John (I saw your comment on my non-commenting so now I am commenting 😉

    I wonder what metrics RECs use to determine their preferred vendor list? Have you tried contacting any of them – to see if they have a handle on how many active customers are using specific EMRs?

  • Cora,
    Glad to see my comment worked.

    It seems like the RECs are all over the place in how they select their “preferred vendors.” I can’t see any value in what any of them are doing, except the RECs that just decided not to do it since it was a conflict of interest.

    I’ve talked to quite a few of them. I know some of them realize some of the major EHR players in their area, but I don’t think they have many hard numbers. Maybe the EMR vendors for those who have filled out the form to say they’d like to work with the REC.

  • Hi John

    My brief experience working with RECs has not been the most productive. They are using ancient metrics, number of installs, number of installs in state, CCHIT cert of 2008 and so on. I guess they have to publish some base line metrics and not knowing any better, they are using such.

    RECs can be more visible in assisting the Physicians, educating them on the pros and cons, the project management and implementation pitfalls and so on. Selecting and promoting vendors should probably the last of their priorities. Unfortunately they seem to be putting the cart before the horse and in the process eliminating some of the up and coming vendors. But it is what it is.

    As far as the Vanity Numbers go, I am with you; numbers are subjective in terms of what and how they are measured. I have seen the number of users being used as the number of clients, 40 users signed on for the day, implemented in 30 minutes. We know all these are just ‘vanity numbers’ and have to take it for what it is.

  • Interesting post. I came across vanity metrics when I was doing some research on Healthcare IT services. Everybody in the market claims to have expertise in helping hospitals achieving meaning use. Funny, nobody tells you what they are offering! Its a mess of hardware, software and even consulting firms trying to get a piece of the pie…

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