Different Methods to Become a Top EMR Company

A few months ago, the blogger over at Health Finch wrote blog post which analyzes 3 of the top health care IT companies and how they were started. It is very interesting to see the evolution of the large health care IT companies. Here’s the summary of the 3 companies Health Finch looked at:
Epic Systems – Started with Scheduling and Billing
Cerner – Started as a Laboratory Information System
McKesson – Started dong Rx Management

As a PS to the post, they point out Epocrates working on the same model with their Epocrates EMR. That is one of the most interesting things I’ve noted when attending the various EMR related conferences that I attend. There’s a whole variety of ways that EMR companies are approaching the market.

Another example of this trend is the Care360 EHR from Quest. Think about all the benefits that Quest has over many other providers. Sure, the most obvious one is that they have easy access to the lab data. You can be sure that an interface with Quest labs will be free (unlike most other EMR vendors). Although, certainly it also could be a challenge if you want your EMR to interface with another lab. That could be interesting.

However, Quest has a number of other advantages over a new EMR company. They have an entire sales force (which I think they prefer to call consultants) that already have existing relationships with thousands and thousands of doctors. Quest could literally only sell EMR software to their existing lab customer base and do fine. Of course, that’s probably not the best strategy, but that’s a powerful advantage over the other EMR companies.

There are a ton of other companies that we could talk about. Those entering ePrescribing first. Those transcription companies that are offering an EMR solution. I find it absolutely fascinating. So, if you know of others, I’d love to hear your EMR vendor’s story in the comments.

Suffice it to say that we’re in the middle of an all out war by EMR vendors. The good part is that it’s not likely to be a winner takes all affair, but there will be many many EMR vendors that will end up on the winning end.

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.


  • John,

    Much of the success of these companies may relate to the economic conditions present.

    However, Epocrates may be better positioned than most because of their brand identity and awareness as a mobile platform for health applications. In addition, it might be dependent upon the type of mobile EMR/EHR application being designed.

    The heritage of Epocrates has been native applications to the platforms that store local data. T This has served Epocrates well because of the limited need for synchronous data manipulation with an external data store

    The CPU and battery power of mobile applications may not favor browser-based virtual desktop sessions and I’m hopeful that Epocrates will adopt a native platform paradigm.

    Note: I have no financial interest in Epocrates.

  • Sadly, I think much of this actually indicates an EMR vendor’s ability to market as much as to create product.

    It would be a huge mistake for Epocrates to just do a virtual desktop session for their EMR. I think their app is native. Although, you’re right about the CPU and battery power still being a bigger issue with an always connected EMR app versus their previous Epocrates software.

  • You correctly point out that Quest’s CARE360 product will enjoy many marketing advantages. However it also represents a huge company risk. If the product doesn’t function as advertised, they could lose market share in the core product, diagnostic laboratory services.

  • Chuck,
    It’s a fine point. If they start focusing on their new product and transgress the old product, they could lose market share as well.

    It’s also possible that Quest is great at making lab software, but terrible at making EMR software. That will determine their long term success.

  • I’ve played around with Care360 for iPad. Looks great. Information design could use a little tweaking. And I totally don’t understand their workflow concept, but I’m not a primary doctor so I’m not sure I’m meant to.

  • Brian,
    Workflow is one of the most important things. That’s a bit disturbing, but I’ll hold out for a primary doc.

    I’d estimate a million dollars is about the range to develop a full featured EMR software.

    I should clarify that the above perspective is more about the industry in general and not from the perspective of a doctor evaluating their EMR/EHR vendor. That evaluation is very different and has very different criteria. One of those is the talent and depth of the engineering group at the EMR. That’s just a hard criteria to evaluate, but it’s possible with the right research.

  • John,

    One of the precepts during my consulting engagements is a rigorous review of company assets and resources, their support model and their product development life cycles and road maps. Admittedly, these are proxies for better answers, but frankly, do buyers really understand or think that vendors are forthright?

  • Some are forthright and some are not. Although, you’d be mistaken to take them at their word. You can get that information through other ways. For example, current users are a wealth of information about update cycles and an EMR vendors ability to meet the road map they describe.

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