I’ve been thinking about this idea since MGMA and it was illustrated even more deeply at the HIMSS 2017 Annual conference as well. EHR vendors with a reasonably sized user base have made a really big shift. Instead of selling EHR software, they’ve become a really interesting distribution channel.
Sure, you can still go to any of the EHR vendors and buy an EHR. They all can do that and they have some effort to sell EHR, but not really. Instead, you can see that the focus of many EHR software vendors have shifted to retaining their existing customer base and selling them new products. Some of them integrate smartly with the EHR software, but many of them have very little to do with the EHR.
Think about it from the EHR vendor perspective. They could churn their wheels trying to sell EHR software to a bunch of clinics that have basically chosen to not do EHR. Sounds like fun, right? They could also try and get people to switch EHR companies. Another really fun task, right? No, it’s a really challenging thing to do.
Instead of the really hard challenge of selling EHR software to people that don’t want it or don’t like the one they have, they instead sell something of value to their existing user base. It’s no wonder that EHR vendors have chosen to become distribution channels. If you have a sizable user base in a saturated market, it’s much easier to become a distribution channel to your users than it is to try and take users from your competitor.
Does this not describe where we are in the ambulatory EHR market? I’m seeing that play out across a whole lot of EHR vendors. This dynamic will be extremely interesting to watch. It will also be interesting to see what this means for smaller EHR vendors who don’t have a large enough user population to be a good distribution channel.
What do you think of this shift?