Health IT Execs Say They’re Unhappy With EHR-Based Analytics Packages

It would be nice if the analytics packages included with EHRs did exactly what you hoped they would do. After all, you want the various capabilities you manage to play nicely with one another.

However, for many health IT leaders these analytics platforms just aren’t cutting it, if the results of a recent survey are any indication.

Dimensional Insight, which makes a healthcare business intelligence and analytics solution, surveyed 108 healthcare leaders about their use of analytics platforms. (Obviously, the fact that they offer a non–EHR analytics platform makes them less than neutral on the subject, but the numbers are still interesting.)

When responding to the survey, 90% of these organizations reported using the analytics in their EHRs, with 50% using EHR analytics as their exclusive or primary analytics tool. In theory, that would suggest that they were happy with this option, wouldn’t it?

Actually, not so much. On a scale of 0 to 10 (with zero equal to extremely dissatisfied and 10 extremely satisfied), those using EHR analytics had a not-so-robust average satisfaction rating of 5.58. More than half of the respondents said the component was not robust or advanced enough.

Meanwhile, users of in-house solutions at an average satisfaction rate of 6.51, and specialized analytics platform users at an average satisfaction level of 6.69.

So what’s behind this “I could take it or leave it” ranking of EHR-based analytics tools? There seem to be a number of ways in which these tools fall short.

The most common complaint seems to be that reporting and querying of EHR analytics is slow (cited by 43.4%). In addition, 35.8% said that the component was not robust or advanced enough to meet their needs, 30.2% said that these tools pose interoperability challenges with other systems, 28.3% said EHR analytics didn’t provide the visualization needed and 26.4% said the user interface was difficult to understand or use.

Meanwhile, respondents said that the top challenges for those using analytics-specific platforms faced were interoperability with other systems (59.4%) and cost (40.6%).

I wasn’t surprised by the results of this survey. There’s always an argument to be made in favor of implementing specialized best-of-breed systems to tackle important problems. In fact, to my mind, it’s almost a given that healthcare organizations need to apply the extra muscle a specialized analytics tool can offer.  Especially to incorporate data from outside of the EHR.

After all, it would certainly be nice if healthcare leaders didn’t have to build out in-house capabilities, as HIT departments certainly have enough to do already. It would also be good if healthcare organizations didn’t have to spend big bucks on a dedicated analytics package which might not be completely compatible with their EHR.  There are always gives and takes.

It seems to me that ultimately, most organizations will want to buy a dedicated analytics platform, as EHR vendors can’t be expected to be experts at everything. Still, it wouldn’t hurt to goose the vendors a bit and encourage them to aim higher with the analytics packages they do offer.

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.