'Dissatisfaction' leading to EHR replacement trend

A 59 percent uptick in physicians looking for new systems, says report
By Mike Miliard
11:05 AM
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close up on doctor using an EHR

More and more buyers of electronic health records are finding themselves having second thoughts and opting to replace their existing systems, according to a new report.

[See also: Nurses not happy with hospital EHRs]

"When buyers contact us, we determine whether they are purchasing an EHR for the first time or replacing an existing system," writes Gaby Loria, market research associate at Software Advice, in its 2015 EHR Software BuyerView report.

"In the six years we've been studying EHR buyers, 2015 marks the first time that the amount of clinicians looking to replace an existing EHR outnumbers the amount of clinicians looking to purchase an EHR for the first time," she writes.

[See also: Docs are unhappy, and mHealth isn't helping]

Sure, that number could be a simple function of the fact that more practices have EHRs to replace nowadays than they did six years years ago.

But the report finds that frustration is rampant among physicians, who are still seeking a functionality and ease of use that many systems are plainly lacking.

Dissatisfaction with EHRs is the top reason for replacement purchases, according to the report. Of those unhappy shoppers, 24 percent say their current EHR system "is too cumbersome or faulty."

"We hear a lot of feedback from unsatisfied EHR users, whose pain points include that their current system 'takes tons of clicks to get through,' 'is not intuitive' or 'keeps crashing,'" writes Loria.

She quotes Health Populi blogger Jane Sarasohn-Kahn, who points out that, more than five years post-HITECH, healthcare providers are becoming more "discerning shoppers" as they gain more experience with the technology.

Thankfully, some systems are starting to evolve toward that more knoweledgable client base.

"We're in the beginning of this trend toward lighter, better-designed EHRs with frameworks that facilitate patient engagement," says Sarasohn-Kahn. "Systems will have to be more nimble, patient-focused and interoperable."

Another big reason for EHR replacements? Lack of staying power for the vendors themselves.

"Some buyers noted their vendor had recently merged with another company or gone out of business: A common occurrence in this market," writes Loria, who notes that the ambulatory EHR marker is "notoriously fragmented, with five of the top 10 vendors claiming a market share of less than 3 percent each."

Potential buyers, she adds, "should try to choose a reputable vendor that has established trust and staying power."

Among other key takeaways of the BuyerView report:

  • The number clinicians replacing their EHRs has increased 59 percent since 2014
  • Billing functionality is a keen need of EHR buyers, the top-requested functionality (45 percent) ahead of claims support (27 percent) and patient scheduling (23 percent)
  • As population health comes to the fore, 28 percent of buyers are looking for patient tracking capabilities: monitoring assessments, treatment plans, progress notes, etc.



Read the whole report here.