When you think about how big-iron EMR vendors like McKesson, Cerner and GE operate, it’s hard to imagine them serving small medical practices. These guys, and their sales teams, are used to making the big sell to hospitals — and making the big bucks on very large installations.
This week at the American Academy of Family Practitioners show, though, McKesson, Cerner and GE were all pushing physician-oriented products:
* McKesson was launching its Practice Partner system, a Web-based EMR and practice management system. The giant vendor is also offering doctors help in building a patient-centered medical home, working in partnership with the AAFP’s TransforMED subsidiary.
* GE was promoting its Centricity Advance, an Web-based, integrated EMR, practice management and patient portal platform which can be “implemented in 30 days,” the vendor notes. (Somehow, I don’t think this will sound fast to doctors.)
* Cerner was flogging its Ambulatory EMR/EHR, which comes in ASP, remote-hosted and client-hosted flavors. Unlike its competitors, Cerner’s sales pitch included claims based on specific results, including, interestingly, an assertion that users were spending up to two hours less time per day on paperwork.
Conspicuous by its absence — to my mind at least — was hospital EMR giant Epic. Epic does offer an ambulatory EMR, which shares its database with the EpicCare Inpatient Clinical System. But apparently it didn’t feel the need to pitch to AAFP members, despite their being leaders in their field who are likely to influence many peers in their EMR buys.
I suppose this squares with Epic’s style overall, as the company doesn’t seem to do much high-intensity selling these days. In all honesty, they don’t really have to do any, either.
On the other hand, doctors don’t seem to have any love for Epic (I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard a physician stand up at a conference or seminar to complain that it’s barely usable), and if Epic wants to reach physicians with an ambulatory product it’s got fences to mend.
In any event, hospital IT folks, it’s worth noting that the vendors making your shortlist are reaching out to doctors. Maybe, just maybe, this will make it easier to bring them on board sometime soon. Guess we’ll have to see how that plays out.