EHR users unhappy, many switching

Vendors often failing to meet provider needs, survey finds

With more electronic health record systems continuing to fall short of providers' expectations, a new report by Black Book Rankings suggests that 2013 may indeed be the "year of the great EHR vendor switch." 

After polling some 17,000 active EHR adopters, report officials found that as many as 17 percent of medical practices could be switching out their first choice EHR by the end of the year. 
 
"The high performance vendors emerging as viable past 2015 are those dedicating responsive teams to address customers’ current demands," said Black Book's Managing Partner Doug Brown, in a news release. 
 
[See also: EHR adoption could exceed 80 percent by end of 2013, new study finds.]
 
And in light of Stage 2, officials say provider demands are only increasing. EHR users polled cited numerous cases of software firms underperforming badly enough to lose crucial market share as the industry evolves, with vendor solutions often struggling to keep pace.
 
The research collected indicates that many EHR vendors have been preoccupied with backlogged implementations and selling product that development issues have been neglected as a priority. Most concerning to current EHR users are unmet pleas for sophisticated interfaces with other practice programs, complex connectivity and networking schemes, pacing with accountable care progresses and the rapid EHR adoption of mobile devices, the survey finds
 
[See also: EHR incentives over $10B to date.]
 
"Meaningful use incentives created an artificial market for dozens of immature EHR products," Brown said.
 
The survey also revealed that some popular "one size fits all" EHR products have failed to meet the needs of several medical specialties and cannot continue to satisfy their client base with a lack of customizable or bespoke tools. 
 
As far as EHR systems meeting the expectations of various medical specialities, nephrologists reported the highest rate of discontent, with 88 percent saying their EHR systems fail to meet their needs. Providers in urology, ophthalmology and gastroenterology also reported high rates of discontent. Contrastingly, a much lower number of small practice physicians, 54 percent, reported that their system failed to meet their needs.
 
With high numbers of providers indicating that EHR systems have failed to meet their needs, more are considering a system switch. Some 31 percent of survey respondents indicated they were "dissatisfied enough" with their EHR to consider making a switch. Thirty-four percent said they were neither overly satisfied or dissatisfied. 
 
[See also: M&A can be hazardous to health IT.]
 
Out of those EHR users considering a system switch, 80 percent said the solution does not meet the practices' individual needs; 79 percent indicated that the medical practice had not adequately assessed the group's needs before choosing the EHR; 77 percent of respondents cited solution design as ill-fitted for their medical practice or specialty; and 44 percent said vendors have been unresponsive to requests. 
 
In addition to the EHR user survey, phone interviews revealed three red flags current users see that would deter them from switching EHR vendors. The majority (32 percent) pointed to mergers and acquisitions; 26 percent cited senior management issues; and 22 percent said declining marketing share/value and internal staff system training issues were of concern.