Will EMR Vendors Cut Through The Noise This Year?

Folks,  as an editor covering this industry I’ve read more EMR vendor news, pored over more of their press releases and taken in more their advertising pitches than most.   Despite that, I’ve seldom walked away with a clear sense of why that vendor was truly special.

While that’s never a good thing for any vendor, it’s a particularly bad problem in 2011, which, I predict, will make or break many smaller EMR developers.  If it was hard to get buyers’ attention over the last two years — especially that of fearful physicians — it’s going to be a Herculean challenge this year.  The noise level is higher than a pack of screaming fans at a Metallica concert.

I’m not suggesting that EMRs have become a commodity like John suggested was a possibility (the real problem is how diverse they are, in fact!) but I am saying that many are still doing a terrible job of setting themselves apart.  Too much of the content churned out by EMR vendors makes appallingly broad generalizations or strings together a list of “me-too” features.

I do sympathize, tremendously, with the struggle health IT marketers go through in trying to sell such a complex product in a way which clearly communicates:

*  Affordability
*  Easy maintenance
*  Easy-to-establish productivity
*  Reliability

and in the case of selling to larger entities like hospitals:

*  Interoperability
*  Data integrity
*  Intelligently designed infrastructure
*  Scalability
*  And much, much more!

Still, there’s no getting around the fact that they’ve got to get the job done.  This year, if an EMR vendor seems like a me-too, they’ll be history in 18 months, tops.   Like it or not, the time has come to put up (a clear message) or shut up.

About the author

Anne Zieger

Anne Zieger

Anne Zieger is a healthcare journalist who has written about the industry for 30 years. Her work has appeared in all of the leading healthcare industry publications, and she's served as editor in chief of several healthcare B2B sites.


  • John,

    Perhaps is is less about the EMR Vendor’s product that differentiate. All are similar in so many ways. Could it be the the level of help and guidance supplied in advance of the EMR decision as well a through installation and adoption ?

    A CAVEAT HERE – Our experience is 100% related to the smaller physician office of 1 to 3 providers only.

    As an EMR reseller for a major EMR player, Our team of 4 EMR sales professionals have beat ourselves bloody in an effort to encourage the provider to “take the plunge” into EMR. Our group is made up of IT people with over 30 customer facing years experience each so we did not “just fall off the turnip tree”. We understand IT adoption. Our exploits in that regard are legend. Then too, we have attempted to position ourselves above the fray ourselves as anything but high pressure with every recommendation and proposal based on truth as we know it and tendered with a deep down heart-felt belief that a move toward EMR will in fact improve the business, improve patient safety and enhance customer satisfaction.

    The results in number of licenses purchased and adopted over our the past 2 years of effort are abysmal.

    With the above preamble out of the way, it appears there may be something lacking in the general industry approach. Otherwise, this note would not be necessary.

    We have noticed the lack of publication, directions, consultation and in general significant attention to the absolute necessity for a new workflow design performed in advance of and accommodating most EMR adoptions AT THE SMALLER PHYSICIAN PRACTICE level.

    Lots of stuff out there from HIMMS and others relative to Workflow at the enterprise (hospital) level. Could this disparity be due to the enormity of hourly consulting opportunities of acute and ambulatory deployments at large facilities and clinics ?

    Unless you know of any predominant workflow resources that are pointed at the smaller physician office, it may be a benefit to all to establish the same for the smaller physician office. A portfolio of workflow template scenarios by specialty may go a long way to spurring adoption. Not only adoption but also success in a shorter amount of time with minimum those ugly operational and financial surprises that poison people’s attitude toward EMR.

    Would there be a HIMMS Group that can tackle this issue ? Should there be a Certification established with playbook and standards ?

    Your thoughts welcome.
    Norm Erwin, Director eHealth Solutions, Affinity Enterprises l.l.c..tor eHealth Solutions, Affinity Enterprises l.l.c.

  • Interesting post Kathleen – One of the take-aways from HIMSS11 for me was the incredibly large number of “me-to” EHR vendors on the floor. I asked that same “what makes you different than the other guys” question over and over again and rarely got a quantifiable answer.

    In a market that is as top heavy as this market currently is having dozens (hundreds?) of vendors being unable to answer that question in any meaningful way is troubling.

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