EMR Needs Differ By Specialty – KLAS Doesn’t Differentiate Them

John’s Note: I got the following message from an EMR vendor a while back. I’ve removed the specific names of the EMR vendors to protect the innocent (and guilty in some cases). Plus, the names of the specific companies are tangential to the issue of ratings services like KLAS.

Many of you know that I’m generally opposed to EHR certification and ratings services are a close second. I don’t think these companies are evil, but I just think they provide very little value to the industry and doctors in particular. The comments below were intended for me and not necessarily as a blog post, but I think they’re worth sharing and considering. Hopefully it will help doctors better understand what they’re getting and not getting.

I’m sure this post will drive some interesting discussion in the comments.

I have been talking with [someone] at KLAS since HIMSS about WHY the KLAS data is either 1) Losing Relevance, or 2) Actually Misleading Providers.

[KLAS representative] told me in April that the average annual “accesses” to the KLAS data was about 17,000, while in 2010, they had over 14,000 through mid-April. Big trend change. ONC-driven, no doubt.

I had a discussion with [KLAS representative] at HIMSS and since, outlining how the KLAS data can and probably IS misleading clients. How? For instance….[EMR Vendor A] gets high marks…almost as high as [EMR Vendor B]
They have two “konfidence” checks on their data for the 6-25 provider practice size category (KLAS has 1-5, 6-25, and 25+, I believe as their categories, and vendors must submit their reference accounts in those partitions).

If you are a provider who sees high marks for [EMR Vendor A] in the 6-25 provider space…with all the good supporting comments…..well above the other vendors….you would probably rely on that data to decide they have to be on your short list. But everyone knows that [EMR Vendor A] serves mostly primary care and ob/gyn practices. They have adapted templates and have references for those accounts. What if you are an orthopedist or ophthalmologist…or other specialist. They have almost NO references for that. The KLAS data does not break it out. You may be badly mislead….and find out shortly after spending tens of thousands of dollars…that it wont work at all for you.

We have asked them to break out the data by specialty… they know who they are talking to. They know what each practice is. Not hard to add the question…so the data can be sliced that way. Tremendous value-add for ALL practices to know how the vendors break out. Guess what they are going to find out when they do that? And by the way…they ONLY gather data from accounts that have been installed and live for a certain period of time….no data on failed attempts or those that gave up using products.

KLAS agreed in principle it was a good idea to add specialty to their data. They even agreed to start doing it with the last reporting cycle, but didn’t have much time. All the data they have….not normalized by specialty.

LIKE THE GOVERNMENT, THEY ARE ASSUMING ALL SPECIALTIES CAN BE TREATED THE SAME AS FAR AS EMR ADOPTION GOES. Why do they think there is a 50-83% failure rate in the industry? Why has “meaningful use” not been defined for specialties before “certification” of a product can be decided? Does an orthopedist who does hip replacements, rotator cuff surgery and meniscus revisions…..report the same thing as doctors who treat diabetes, liver disease or other costly chronic-care conditions? Heck No.

I don’t think the market fully realizes how “homogenized” the KLAS data is….after all, if the average depth of the Mississippi River is only three feet…..why are there so many different size boats—-barges to sailboats—sailing in it each day?

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.


  • My problem with KLAS is that the reporters are self selecting. Their approach, and they are not alone in this by any means, is to make up for statistical reliability with volume. I would prefer something less broad in scope, but more accurate.

  • That’s just the beginning Carl. I’ve heard some crazy stories about many of their reports providing information even without the volume.

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