John Moore at Chilmark Research said, “So Many EHRs, So Little Time: Simply amazing that this market can support so many EMR/EHR companies. How they all survive or will survive is a mystery to me and rationalization will occur. ”
It really is pretty stunning that 300+ EMR vendors are still trying to carve their niche in the EMR market. That’s a lot of friendly (or not so much) competition.
However, I can’t help but sit back and wonder if we’re looking at this the wrong way. Maybe there’s not actually 1 EMR market out there. Maybe there are actually 50 EMR markets.
The case for 50 EMR markets is simple. There is an EMR market for every specialty. Add in regional differences, countries, and I think you could get close to 50 markets. However, the number of markets doesn’t really matter. What matters is that there’s more than 1 EMR market.
Almost every EMR vendor I’ve seen has had the challenge of deciding how they want to market their EMR software. It’s not an easy choice, but more and more we’re seeing EMR vendors focus on specific markets. I think that they’ve found that they can’t be all things to all doctors. Doctors in different specialties are unique and that by focusing on a certain specialty they can provide a real value added service to the doctors in that specialty.
Assuming there’s 50 EMR markets, that means that there’s only 6 EMR vendors per market. That’s a much more reasonable number to consider.
Now there’s no doubt that EMR vendors are working in more than one EMR market. Some of the larger EMR vendors are doing a great job focusing on a number of specialties. So, maybe it’s 10-20 real players in each specialty market. Still too many, but we’ll definitely see a lot of consolidation in this regard.
In fact, I’m a little surprised that we haven’t seen more EMR vendors purchasing up these specialty specific EMR vendors and having them work as kind of subsidiaries of the other company. Then, the large company can provide a variety of very targeted EHR products. The key for that company would be to build amazing interfaces between the various EHR products you own. Show true EHR interoperability between these products and you can sell them as a great package to even the larger hospital owned ambulatory practices. Could be a really interesting play for an EMR vendor I think.
Now, I’m sure that someone will say in the comments that one EMR vendor can serve all 50 markets. They can just build “modules” (or some other similar term) that customizes the EMR to meet the needs of that specialty. The problem is that the “modules” are always limited and lacking. Focusing a “module” of an EMR on a specialty and focusing an EMR on a specialty ends up with very different results.