Top Three Annoying Things EHR Vendors Do To Sell

The following is my personal list of pet peeves about the way vendors conduct themselves during the sales process. This comes from observation, not direct experience, as I’m a researcher rather than a techie — but I hear about these issues over and over.

Top Three Annoying Things EHR Vendors Do To Sell
(in no particular order):

1.   Can’t explain how their product actually solves physician problems:  Tech companies can’t help being a little, er, technical when they describe their products, and EHR firms are no exception. Too often, they end up writing their documentation to please their colleagues rather than their customers.  Others, meanwhile, entice customers with shallow nonsense (oh, and I mention spectacular, $200K boothes at HIMSS) then throw a confusing technical mess at buyers when they’re ready to look closer.

2.   Claim their product is a Swiss Army knife: Even the biggest, baddest enterprise EHR package will eventually need significant add-ons such as master data management technology.  Not only that, implementing any high-end EHR product will call for bridging technologies that integrate everything from labs to PACS.

3.  Slack off on support after the sale: Oh, this is a classic one for just about any software vendor, but it’s particularly damaging where EHRs are concerned.  Vendors often overpromise and under-deliver when it comes to tech support. The wise IT manager will evaluate what they need in the way of training and support, then make sure they get absolutely everything on the list.

I’ll be interested to see if you disagree with these, or come up with others. Just shoot me a note at

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.


  • BRAVO! The question will be which companies take this point of view to heart and listen. Doing business and competing is not a crime. The crime occurs when the customer becomes a comodity traded by companies with no real value placed on the needs of the customer. More discourse and more transparency like this could make those companies who do listen better.


  • Wow, did you read our business plan? We started XLEMR with the specific intent of addressing precisely these issues.
    1) We have our clients do the demo’s. This way the real world of a multi-specialty practice can surface from the beginning. It’s an open book, no topic is taboo. We don’t even need to be on the call.
    2) Actually we do the opposite. We claim that we don’t know how your practice works, what you have or what you need. We also claim that we will listen carefully to first understand the particular needs of your practice then demonstrate our ability to “connect” to what every surfaces as a need quickly and in a manner that facilitates both the business need and the workflow.
    3) Support is our bread and butter. Support drives our business forward. We enjoy the personal relationships we have with our clients and depend on the constant flow of requests to keep our product and business growing.

  • Absolutely.
    I have had customers complain it took a few weeks for their previous vendor to just respond to a question. Then a few months to actually fix a problem.
    It always surprises them when I have a fix ready for the customer in a few hours. Advantages of being true SaaS 🙂

  • Tripp and Abhi,
    I think that most EMR and EHR vendors find the support piece easy in the beginning. In fact, it’s kind of an essential thing since it helps you to know how to develop your product. However, at some critical mass (which is hard to define), the company gets so big that it’s hard to maintain support at the same level as when you were starting out. Plus, changes to the SaaS environment have to go through a change order process because you had a bad incident (or 2) and your customers got really angry because the fix you added in a few hours wasn’t well tested and caused them harm.

    I’m interested to know how you plan to deal with these types of challenges as you grow.

  • Hey John, Excellent question… We believe that each individual provider must be in total control of all aspects of their EHR because who are we as Vendors to dictate to anyone how they should run their business or practice medicine? So at XLEMR we use the Microsoft Office solution. Each business world wide is free to improve Word documents, templates, forms, letters etc with out restriction. Each business is free to extend Excel Spread sheets with new Tabs with charts and graphs in any way they see fit with no restriction. Our mission is to bring this same freedom enjoyed by all other businesses to the business of medicine. So our clients do not need to depend upon XLEMR to provide support or maintenance because the can do this themselves or easily hire “off the street” programmers if they want. Web is a rich source of free sample code, instructional videos and expert assistance for all of Microsoft’s products. Of course XLEMR wants to be the provider of choice for Maintenance and Support but we must compete with the market to win this business every day. Unlike the SAAS model which has maybe 2-10 individuals world wide who know how to improve these products without breaking them for all of their clients at the same time, XLEMR uses the millions upon millions of individuals world wide who already know how to improve Office products as a pool of (low cost) resources to support our growth. Because each client has their own unique “copy” of XLEMR changes introduced for one client have absolutely no impact on any other client. Also if a change does not improve the system, simply revert to the previous Master EEF.xls and try again tomorrow. It’s so very simple.

  • Hey John – Two more from my experiences are;

    – Trust me (don’t have to be in the contract)
    – This is our best and final offer (for the 8th time)

  • Comming from the vendor side, as an Implementation and Training expert, I can tell you there are all kinds of questions the clients don’t ask.
    Who else is using this product? What type of facility, inpatient, outpatient, practice management, therapy, etc. was this platform designed for? Does the platform produce and receive HL7 files in a meaningful way? Are there any known hardware limitations? Are there any known software limitations?
    Being the guy who gets sent to cleanup the … poorly handled expectations really provides a completely different view of what the healthcare provider should be looking for. Not evey provider needs the big money system, those who don’t shouldn’t be pushed to buy it. Unfotunately, technology in general is sold as a more is more product. Mix this with the lack of personnel that really understand how technology works to blend the clinical and financial needs of a healthcare facility and you get high failure to adopt rates with large amounts of wasted money. As you can tell I’m not looking for sales or making a sales pitch here, but if anyone has a follow up question I’d be happy to reply as time allows.
    John – I think you’ve got a really great blog here and your topics are thought provoking to say the least.

  • Curt,
    I agree that those searching for an EHR could do a much better job asking the right questions. I have a whole category of posts on my other blog called EMR sales miscommunications: These are all the times where everyone was being honest in their questions and answers, but the real question the person meant to ask wasn’t being answered because they didn’t ask the right way.

    Glad you like the blog and are contributing to the discussion. As a side note, Katherine Rourke wrote this post, not me. I think I need to find a better way to highlight who is posting since I have a bunch of writers participating now.

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