EHR, revenue cycle and practice management vendors to integrate products, Black Book says

With large integrated delivery networks scooping up physician practices and pressuring vendors to integrate different pieces of infrastructure, expect changes coming before too long.
By Diana Manos
09:56 AM
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EHR, rev cycle

Integrated delivery networks (IDNs) are demanding product consolidation of electronic health records, revenue cycle and practice management vendors are likely to deliver sooner rather than later, according to new Black Book research.

The firm found that the recent uptake of physician practices by hospital systems has led to a tangled mess of various physician technology platforms, making it difficult to achieve value-based care goals. Eighty-five percent of IDN executives surveyed said alignment of hospital and physician IT will be critical.

WHY IT MATTERS

As software vendors serve their largest customers, such product consolidation will inevitably do two things: shape the future of or EHR, PM and revenue cycle software and ultimately trickle down to mid-size and smaller hospitals.

Depending upon varying factors and constraints, that can either be good or bad. But Black Book found a few reasons in support of the former.

“Hospital-owned and employed physician practices on an integrated EHR, PM, RCM platform collect, on average, 29 percent more on billed charges than do independent physicians with non-integrated or unconnected EHR RCM platforms,” the firm said.

What’s more, it also saw large percentage increases in scheduling satisfaction, enabling clinical teams to and analyze provider performance, interoperability and coordinated information flows between physician practices and hospital departments, among others.

The survey, titled “Rapid Escalation of Practice Acquisitions Drives Hospital Systems to Merge Hosts of Physician Technology Platforms by 2021,” polled more than 3,000 hospital-owned or employed physician practice organizations.

According to Black Book, health systems are more likely to maximize return on investment with “complex organizational structures” that allow seamless coordination between departments and locations in areas that include staffing, scheduling, billing, claims processing, patient engagement and inventory management. They are also more likely to motivate unengaged physician practices that aren’t using advanced EHR tools, to use them.

THE BIGGER TREND

Black Book said that recent uptake of physician practices by hospital systems has led to a tangled mess of various physician technology platforms, making it difficult to achieve value-based care goals. Eighty-five percent of IDN executives surveyed said alignment of hospital and physician IT will be critical.

Doug Brown, managing partner of Black Book Research, said large IDNs and hospital systems are leading the charge for complex consolidated platforms because insurance-mandated and government-mandated payment policies favor large health systems.

The latest Global EMR Performance 2018 report from KLAS noted that the size and scale of IT deployments have generally grown significantly worldwide in recent years: evidence of a "rapidly changing global EMR landscape."

According to a HIMSS Analytics reckoning of 571,045 providers affiliated with 4,023 hospitals, the average number of distinct EHRs is 16, giving a glimpse of the interoperability problem.

It’s not just the reality that implementing, running and maintaining all the different products has created something of mess. Healthcare as an industry needs interoperability to be able move forward now that the system is digital.

One recent piece of evidence demonstrating this market trend is the Nov. 12 acquisition of Athenahealth by Veritas Capital and Evergreen Coast Capital, for $5.7 billion. Following the closing, Veritas and Evergreen expect to combine athenahealth with Virence Health, the GE Healthcare Value-based Care assets that Veritas acquired earlier this year, the companies said in a statement.

The combined business is expected to be a leading, privately-held healthcare information technology company with an extensive national provider network of customers and world-class products and solutions to help them thrive in an increasingly complex environment.

ON THE RECORD

“In a healthcare system dominated by large, integrated health care delivery organizations, centralized administrations are moving to achieve harmonized electronic health records, reimbursement systems and quality measures,” said Doug Brown, Managing Partner of Black Book Research. “With over fifty percent of US doctors receiving their pay directly or indirectly from a hospital system organization, CFOs and CIOs are seeing the value-based care model potential, reimbursement improvements and resources expenditure savings to be gained by implementing a fully integrated healthcare information technology system.”