Accenture: Five Questions Hospital Boards Should Ask Before EMR Buys

As we’ve noted in the past, hospitals are on not only an EMR buying binge, they’re doing a lot of switching from one EMR to another. Check out these stats from Accenture:

Accenture research shows that 4 to 4.5 percent of hospitals plan to make an EMR buying decision each year. This
could exceed 110+ EMR contracts or 200 to 250 hospitals per year. This trend is expected to continue well into the
future. In fact, in 2012, 50 percent of EMR deals [were] replacements, up from 30 percent in 2011, according to KLAS Research.

Whether your hospital is a switcher, a late adopter or  planning some kind of EMR upgrade, it’s making a decision of grave importance. So what are some of the key considerations boards should bear in mind? Here’s Accenture’s list of five key questions boards should keep front and center as they consider (more)  big EMR investments and plan for the future:

*  Does your current system offer enough functionality to meet up and coming Meaningful Use requirements, such as the ability to make patient family health histories and imaging results available? Does your current or contemplated EMR vendor have plans in place to keep up with future requirements/changes?

*  Is the EMR vendor’s development strategy in line with your strategy? “Boards should ask of the EMR vendor: do they have adequate resources…to help complete the business roadmap on time and successfully?” Accenture asks. And just as importantly: “Can the vendor help ensure that future product functions are strategically aligned to the healthcare [system’s] key initatives?”

* Is your hospital currently on track to meet ICD-10 adoption and Meaningful Use Stage 2 requirements?  Is your vendor going to be able to help support you in these efforts as your hospital works to meet these multiple goals, or does it lack the resources to do so?

* If we decide to switch EMRs, do we have the internal resources needed to support such a bandwidth-sucking effort? Given competition for healthcare IT labor today, will you have the ability to hire on additional resources if needed? And while you’re at it, is your C-level and IT leadership solid enough to make such a treacherous journey?

* Can your hospital afford to switch EMRs, bearing in mind not only direct costs such as licensing, implementation and new technical support, but also ongoing support costs in the neighborhood of 20 percent per year?

To answer these questions, Accenture recommends you conduct an independent analysis of EMR vendors (presumably, rather than relying on analyst firms or peer feedback exclusively).  This sounds like a very good idea to me.

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.


  • Good post! In regards to point three, I worry that hospitals are placing too much reliance on the EMR vendor to be their primary support through challenging transitions like MU and ICD-10. An EMR company’s incentives are not really aligned with providing the level of clinical support required for those initiatives. Their businesses are aligned for writing code and selling licenses. Not for professional services.

    Certainly the EMR companies have a huge role to play, but I would prefer hospitals find a third party resource to balance against the EMR and be incented to accomplish clinical benchmarks.

  • Interesting that these are the 5 things that Boards need to consider, but there is no consideration for the actually using the system, is it functional and improve quality and safety without increasing the need for additional professional staff to enter all the information?

  • It also begs another question – how does a hospital undertake an independent analysis of EHR vendors? There is no truly independent source that I’m aware of for such info (as I understand it one well known source only rates those that pay to be rated). Sure, a hospital can and should put out some variation of RFI and RFP, and should put together a team of both IT and clinicians to evaluate what comes in, but even then, there is still the lack of a clear source to go to for an in depth look at numerous issues. The team should, of course, visit other institutions that use each system that they are looking at, and interview heavily those involved. But is that enough?

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