eClinicalWorks CEO Girish Navani speaks: 'This chapter has to be closed'
Since its settlement with the Department of Justice in late May, eClinicalWorks has been under fire for its business practices but it has also been winning new customers.
The company said on Friday, in fact, that second quarter sales for 2017 topped $120 million on its EHR, patient engagement and population health software and cloud services.
Healthcare IT News Editor-in-Chief Tom Sullivan spoke with eClinicalWorks Chief Executive Officer Girish Navani about what the company learned since the settlement and where it will focus its efforts moving forward.
Q: It would appear that eCW’s momentum has continued despite the DOJ settlement — what do you attribute that to?
A: Customer satisfaction. At the end of the day we have a pretty solid product line and success has been good for 17 years. That’s the number one thing a company does, take care of customers, innovate, provide a good price point. We have a track record of that and I would say we’ve been even more focused on that during the last year so we will see that momentum continue.
Q: KLAS published research this week that found 34 percent of your customers are planning to switch EHR vendors though only 4 percent said it was because of the settlement – so why are so many leaving now?
A: I don’t know about those numbers but I know we have 15,000 customers. I don’t know if they talked to 1,500 of them or 50 of them but we continue to see not only new business but growth with existing customers, expanding with population health and patient engagement. So I don’t agree with that. I don’t know if the sample size is big enough to understand what it is in terms of the big picture. Focus on customers, do the right thing, and you’ll be fine.
Q: I have heard from a number of clients that eClinicalWorks — and I’m quoting one here who said “there is absolutely zero question they hold customer data hostage” — how do you respond to that?
A: Well, Tom, we responded to that with you earlier. We sent you the formal copy. Objectivity in any discussion is paramount. We have a formal process in the company to return all the data on a hard drive. I don’t know what one customer wants to say to you. All I know is we have a formal process. We return practice management and EMR data because our contract is black and white, whether in cloud or on-premise, data belongs to the customers. Not just discrete data, all the data, scanned documents as well. If they exercise the right to take it, they get all of the data.
Q: Actually, that was only one of the people who reached out to me. There were multiple customers sharing that sentiment …
A: You can send them that document we sent to you that outlines all the options. You can send that to them and if they select it and then come back and tell you that eClinicalWorks does not respect that document, then we should have a conversation. I cannot qualitatively speak to an individual commentary with you. What I can speak to is our customer services department standard operating procedure — meaning, if that request comes, that’s what the person has to do. They send that document over and the customer has a choice of what they want to do.
Q: What has eCW learned since the settlement? How is the company changing?
A: There are some things that stay the same and some things have to change. Product development and innovation has to continue. That’s one of the foremost principles of a tech company or else you get superseded in the technological innovation curve, that happens to any company that stays stagnant. Version 11 will come out in October at our national conference and it will have newer models around teleheath and patient engagement and new product innovations in population health in terms of risk and predictive analytics.
What has to get complimented along with this is the area of compliance. I would contend this is important for every electronic health record vendor to now recognize that everyone needs to respect meaningful use, check against criteria. We do. We have a compliance program that can be measured against every check and balance in that criteria and executed in a way that does not allow any non-conformity. That’s the focus in my workplace and I would broadly say that any of the 700 in our industry should focus on the compliance side of regulatory requirements alongside innovation because that’s the expectation of our industry going forward.
Q: So given the compliance program you mentioned, what exactly happened? What lead to this DOJ settlement?
A: Tom, some day when we are talking years from now, yes. But now going back is not my purpose anymore. It’s a chapter that has to be closed and we move on. I can commit this to you: Back to normalcy and working, more focus on product innovation and customer service, and a tighter compliance program. What happened, why it happened, how and why we handled it, nobody will win with that discussion. It’s not worth it.
Q: I have reached out several times for comments post-settlement and was told you did not want to respond, so why go on the record now?
A: I wasn’t trying to ignore your requests. My priority was my customers, I was nonstop engaging with my clients, I was nonstop traveling as well. I’m not making that as an excuse. When you’re asking about my business, about product innovation, I’d be happy to talk to you. Call me four weeks later and I’ll talk to you again to tell you what happened in the last four weeks.