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Most Expensive Purchase is Second EHR

Posted on December 21, 2012 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

At an event this fall I happened upon an executive at one of the major EHR vendors. We had a brief discussion in the lobby, but he said something that I found really interesting and I think describes the strategy of many of the large ambulatory EHR vendors. Here’s what he said:

“The Most Expensive Purchase is Their Second EHR”

A popular EHR consultant was in on the conversation and he started shaking his head in agreement.

I’ve long suggested that practices usually get their second EHR selection and implementation right. It just makes common sense that a practice would use the lessons learned from their first EHR implementation and be able to do a better job selecting and implementing the second EHR implementation. Although, I have heard of cases where it took the third implementation to do it right.

What intrigued me more was that this EHR vendor executive tied the purchase price to a second EHR. He’s right that price becomes a very different discussion when you are talking to someone who is buying their second EHR. In a lot of cases, price becomes a non-issue for those implementing their second EHR. They will spend whatever amount is needed to be able to get an EHR that they like to use. This is reflected in the quote above. I expect that’s why a second EHR is the most expensive purchase.

I wonder how many EHR companies are capitalizing on this fact. I’ve heard from numerous people that there’s a lot of EHR switching that’s happening right now. So, the idea of a second EHR is not outlandish. For many, the second EHR implementation has become a major reality.

Best Description of the CareCloud EHR Platform

Posted on August 31, 2011 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

In a post on EMR and EHR about Social Media and EMRs, Andre Vovan, MD MBA from Mitochon Systems offered an interesting insight into the comparison between EMR and social media.

Social media and EMR are a natural fit. Think about what social media really enables. The ablity to stay connected, following different strings of info/story weaved by connected people. Say for instance you and your friends went to the Grand Canyon, one person took pictures while the other did the cooking, planning, and was responsible for entertainment during the trip. When they try to retell the story to their friends, each will be able to add different aspect of the story and with social network platforms such as facebook, this is possible.

Now take the story above, and insert 2 doctors and change the trip taken to be a patient going from a diagnosis to a surgery and afterwards trying to tell other physician providers on went on. If we design the EHR with this capability, then medicine will be improved.
A social media version of electronic medical records would have EMHR, HIE and PHR as one product not as separate.

I know that this was actually Andre’s initial vision for Mitochon Systems EHR. He wanted to create an EHR that could bring a healthcare community together in this way. I’m sure he’ll keep grinding away until he can achieve that vision. I haven’t looked at the Mitochon Systems EHR recently, so I can’t say how close they are to achieving that dream, but when I read Andre’s description I couldn’t help but remember the demo of the CareCloud EHR platform.

Many of you might remember my previous (some might call scathing) post about the CareCloud EHR and an opposing view by David about the CareCloud EHR. That post and a recent trip to San Francisco made it possible for me to see the CareCloud EHR first hand.

I had a great time meeting with Albert Santalo and Mike Cuesta from CareCloud. That was good considering my previous devil’s advocate post about CareCloud. One thing is absolutely certain, Albert has a vision of what he wants CareCloud to be and he’s dead set on achieving that vision. I like that in a CEO and founder of a company.

When it comes to their EHR, I must admit that it kind of reminded me of a lot of other EHR out there. There were a few EMR subtleties that I noticed in the demo, but I can’t say I saw any real wow features that made it a must have EHR. Maybe a full demo and experience with the EHR would create a rainbow of EMR subtleties that would change my mind, but it was a relatively short demo.

Instead, the wow factor wasn’t in the EHR software, but was instead in the CareCloud platform that powers the EHR, PMS and CareCloud Community of users. The description above about an almost “social network of doctors” and the health stream of a patient seems like an apt description of what CareCloud has created. In fact, the social elements of the platform are integrated throughout all of the CareCloud software which makes for some really interesting possibilities.

The challenge that CareCloud has is that a social network or Care Platform if you prefer is only as good as the people and organizations that use that platform. If two doctors are seeing a patient, then both doctors need to be on the same platform to really see a lot of the benefits of a patient’s health stream.

I imagine this is part of the reason why CareCloud has to provide a solid PMS and EHR solution on top of the CareCloud platform. Doing so will seed the platform with users so that with each PMS/EHR sold the platform becomes that much more valuable.

It’s hard to predict the future. Maybe CareCloud won’t get outside of its Miami base and maybe they won’t reach their vision of a CareCloud platform (Maybe Andre and Mitochon Systems or some other HIT vendor will do it instead). However, I’m willing to predict that whether CareCloud wins the healthcare platform war or not, some company will create a healthcare platform like what CareCloud has started to create that will be too valuable not to participate.

Full Disclosure: Mitochon Systems is an advertiser on this site, but they didn’t know I was going to post Andre’s comment.

An Opposing View of Carecloud EHR

Posted on August 2, 2011 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

Turns out David, who manages the Smart Phone Healthcare, EMR Videos, EMR Screenshots and EMR News websites, didn’t agree with some of the devil’s advocate positions I took in my Carecloud EHR post. He said that after reading Dr. Blackledge’s post, I missed a number of things. So, the following is his commentary on what I missed in my previous Carecloud post.

Pretty much every company out there has some good and bad about it.  There are a few that are completely useless, and a few that think they are perfect, but for the most part every company has some worthwhile traits and some things they need to work on.

Last week, John wrote about a new EHR, Carecloud that has been talked about for months, but finally was released last week.  He referenced a post that was written by Aaron Blackledge M.D. back in April about Carecloud.

John played somewhat of a devil’s advocate in analyzing the post and his views of CareCloud.  While I generally agree with his assessment that the post was, “…one where you can tell that the EMR employee has drunk the Kool-aid they’ve been fed by the company.”  I do think there were some very positive things that were addressed in the post. [Items in italics below are quotes from the original post or John’s post]

“What I like most about CareCloud is that when asked about a timeline for release they will only say that they won’t release it until they get it right…That is rare maturity for a company with huge numbers of customers and investors clamoring for a release date.”  While there is something to be said for the “release early and often” approach, I like to see a company that is willing to be patient in order to release a quality product rather than just make some money.

“Another thing I like is they are worried about not just becoming a very successful billing company,…I like a team to be actively looking at and worried about how their successes can derail the larger vision of what they want to accomplish.”  This goes hand in hand with the previous comment.  Companies that are willing to sacrifice long term goals for short term success are bound to fail in the long run.  For a company to truly succeed they must have clear, established goals and be willing to do the work necessary to achieve them.

“I would guess CareCloud’s calm steady course is because they just don’t feel that anyone else is on the same path they are on so why hurry when you have time to get your vision done right.”                         This is possible. Although, it’s also possible that they spent so much time waiting to release that it’s too late for them to capture the EHR market.  I for one believe it is never too late if you have the right product. There are plenty of great examples out there.  Consider how Facebook came in and stole the market away from MySpace, and how Google+ is trying to do the same thing now.  No matter how much people love a product they will always change if there is something better.

“Even the office space at CareCloud is beautiful and reflects this attention to aesthetic and experience of the individual, in this case the employee experience.”  While John is right that a company who spends too much on aesthetics ends up having to pass that cost onto the consumer, there is something to be said for taking care of your employees.  In the military they often offer bonuses for staying in longer than your original commitment.  It has been shown that most of the people who accept those bonuses would have stayed in the military anyway.  On the other hand, many companies have shown that improving the quality of life for their employees encourages them to stay.  The reality is that a crappy job, even with a bonus is still a crappy job.  On the other hand a great job, in a great environment, attracts the best employees and keeps them there the longest.

I will end where John started: “My recommendation is if you are about to give up and lay down some hard earned cash on an EMR that is just good enough I would urge you to wait a few more months and compare CareCloud’s first iteration with other emerging platforms now gaining a foothold in the marketplace.”  This sums up Dr. Blackledge’s post quite well.  Luckily, for those that may be interested you don’t have to wait a few months anymore.  Carecloud has been released and can be viewed at their website whenever you want.

There is no doubt that there are already companies firmly planted in the EHR market, and that there are plenty of others trying to do the same.  Some of them will fail, and others will succeed, that is the reality of business.  One thing is for sure though, EHRs will continue to be implemented across the country, and for those that are willing to put forth the effort to develop a quality product, there is plenty of success to be had.

New EHR Company Ready to Launch – Carecloud

Posted on July 26, 2011 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

Aaron Blackledge M.D., founder of Care Practice clinic in San Francisco, sent me a link to a post he did back in April about a new EMR company called Carecloud. The irony of this is that Carecloud had just reached out to me for information about advertising their EMR on my sites since they are getting ready to launch their product. Their impending launch was why Aaron decided to share his post with me.

I think Dr. Blackledge’s post about Carecloud is summarized in his final paragraph:

My recommendation is if you are about to give up and lay down some hard earned cash on an EMR that is just good enough I would urge you to wait a few more months and compare CareCloud’s first iteration with other emerging platforms now gaining a foothold in the marketplace.

Since Carecloud is about to launch, you won’t have to wait a few months to check it out, but if you read the rest of the post, you see that Dr. Blackledge is high on Carecloud and its potential.

The hard thing for me is that I’ve seen this same EMR high from people over and over. You know the EMR employee (particularly the EMR sales people) “high.” (Although, Dr. Blackledge is not a Carecloud sales person and calls himself a “wayward disgruntled platform evangelist waiting for the future to arrive.”) The one where you can tell that the EMR employee has drunk the Kool-aid they’ve been fed by the company. They’ve likely not looked at many other competing systems and only know the stuff they’ve read in their email from the company highlighting how they’re better than everyone else in the industry.

This “high” is especially potent before a product is actually released. Why? Because it’s easy to get excited about an ideal and see the potential of the ideal. What’s much harder is when the customers start using your product and telling you what’s wrong and trust me that customers will find something wrong. No product is ever perfect.

This pre-product launch “high” is not unique to the EMR industry. It’s found throughout the tech industry (and likely many others). Funny thing is that Dr. Blackledge probably knows this pre-launch hype better than most doctors since he practices medicine in in the internet startup mecca: silicon valley. Ironically he traveled to an EMR company in Miami to find his EMR “high.”

Funny thing is that as I read Dr. Blackledge’s post on Carecloud, a number of comments he made popped out to me as potential red flags. Here are a few:

“First off, they have a really impressive group of people with ambitious plans for building something robust and elegant.”
How many big ambitious plans by companies have fallen apart? Many! I’m not saying that companies shouldn’t think big. I am saying that a group of impressive people with ambitious plans often leads to a momentous flop. At least the startup company numbers seem to spell this out.

“What I like most about CareCloud is that when asked about a timeline for release they will only say that they won’t release it until they get it right. They simply don’t know when it will be ready.”
Some might say that this sounds like a company that’s too afraid to release a product. That the company won’t ever find out what’s right until they launch the product and get customer feedback on what needs to be improved. I guess they don’t follow the release early and often approach to software development.

“Another thing I like is they are worried about not just becoming a very successful billing company, but they want to achieve much more by building something that really resonates with users and transforms the space.”
I applaud this ambition since I’ve been preaching that current EMR software are often just expensive billing machines for a long time. If they solve that problem I’ll be quite happy. Let’s just hope they didn’t forget the billing part though. Sadly, it’s still very important.

“I would guess CareCloud’s calm steady course is because they just don’t feel that anyone else is on the same path they are on so why hurry when you have time to get your vision done right.”
This is possible. Although, it’s also possible that they spent so much time waiting to release that it’s too late for them to capture the EHR market.

“If you hear an EMR company offer you 20 hours of free training with your purchase you can stop right there because any software that needs 20 hours of free onsite training forgot about the user long ago during the building and won’t be doing much in 5 years.”
Of course, in this comment it’s assumed that Carecloud’s focus on a great UI will limit the number of hours needed for EMR training. I love the irony of this being said right after he describes it as a “very complex and difficult to develop product.” I guess you could say it’s making a complex process simple is what’s so difficult. No doubt I agree that many EHR vendors over charge for their EHR training services. Problem with Carecloud is that we don’t know if they’ll charge, how much they’ll charge, and how many hours of training is needed since they haven’t launched.

“Even the office space at CareCloud is beautiful and reflects this attention to aesthetic and experience of the individual, in this case the employee experience.”
That’s one way to look at it. Another is that they overspent on office space and you’re going to pay for that overspending when you buy the software.

Ok, I won’t go through and nit pick the whole post. I think you get the basic idea. Dr. Blackledge describes Carecloud as the best thing since sliced bread. In this post, I’ve played devil’s advocate and described how maybe it’s an over funded, slow to release software company that’s trying to bite off more than it can chew. The reality is that Carecloud is probably somewhere in the middle of those two extremes.

The fact of the matter is that I really don’t have any clue if Carecloud is a good EMR system or not. They haven’t even launched their product, so I’m not sure that anyone knows. However, after creating this post, I have to admit that I’m excited to see it in action in a real doctor’s office. Plus, I think the founder, Albert Santalo, and Dr. Blackledge are going to be at a healthcare IT conference I’m hoping to go to in SF in a couple weeks. I’m looking forward to learning more and talking with them in person.

If nothing else, I love the audacity that it takes for someone to launch an EHR company now. I’ll be interested to see if their product is compelling enough to be “heard above all the EMR noise.”

When EMR Becomes Natural

Posted on February 9, 2011 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

Some very interesting commentary from an EMRUpdate thread:

Six-plus years ago, I started my own office and my husband insisted on an EMR – mainly because the real estate prices were so high that he did not want to pay for file storage.

I have posted on this site over the years: early on, I was told I was crazy for picking an Application Service Provider (I think it’s now called “cloud computing”), and the site had a smartest-guy-in-the-room vibe.

But my EMR worked so I didn’t need help or a tech consult. So I went on my merry way and grew my practice – and downloaded quite a few babies, too! EMR was a big deal for me back in 2004; but now I never really think about it. Maybe the reason is that I was never searching for “THE PERFECT EMR” – I picke one that was “close enough” and made it work. EMR has just been a tool for me: I use it and I no longer think about it.

There are a lot of interesting parts about this EMR story. However, the one that struck me most is how now she doesn’t even think about her EMR software. Using the EMR is just completely natural for her.

Reminds me of when I talked to an old family friend who’s a doctor. I told him how I wrote a blog about EMR. After the initial pleasantries he described how he’d been using an EMR for so long (10+ years if I remember right) that he barely remembered what it was like to practice medicine without it. Needless to say, there’s no way he would practice medicine without an EMR.

Of course, for the other 50-75% of the world that doesn’t have an EMR, the question is how long will it take you to reach that level of comfort and what can you do to make your implementation reach that level as quickly as possible. Hopefully the lessons learned on this blog help many people achieve this goal.

EMR Vendor Extortion for Renewal Fees

Posted on October 15, 2010 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

A reader of EMR and HIPAA recently emailed me about the title of this post. The way they saw it, the software renewals fees for an existing EMR user amounted to EMR vendor extortion. This person felt like providers had little options when it came to the renewal fees that EMR vendors would charge them.

The fact of the matter is that it’s not actually extortion (from what I’ve seen), but it certainly can feel that way if you’re a provider that’s getting charge a train load of money to renew or update your license with your EMR vendor. Unfortunately, once you’re in that position you really don’t have many options. Plus, your options are always very specific to the contract you signed with the EMR vendor.

Instead of focusing on those who are stuck with little options, I think it’s more valuable to try and help those that are just signing and negotiating their contracts with an EHR vendor. This is such a crucial part of the EMR implementation process. Here are a couple paragraphs of the three pages on contract negotiation from my EMR selection e-Book:

Once you have made a final decision on an EMR vendor, it is time to start negotiating the contract with the vendor. It is interesting that doctors are use to negotiating contracts for purchases of large medical devices, but for some reason do not often negotiate the details of their EMR contract. The amount of negotiation room you have in a contract will depend on a number of factors. Generally the larger the EMR vendor the less negotiation room you have with the contract. Interestingly, the larger your organization the more negotiating power you will have as well. That is not to say that large EMR vendors and small doctors do not negotiate the contract. They are just less likely to negotiate or there is less room to negotiate.

There is always some room to negotiate with your EMR vendor. The vendor’s first proposal or contract is always their first offer. You should never take it since price and contract details can always be negotiated.

Many doctors find themselves handing their contract over to their lawyer to handle the negotiation. You will want a lawyer to look over it for final review. However, very few attorneys know much about negotiating tech software contracts. Lawyers usually bill by the hour and you do not want to be paying your lawyer by the hour to negotiate commas and periods that will have little meaning or value to your practice.

The contract negotiation with the EHR vendor is the key time when you make sure it’s very clearly stated the types of fees that you’ll have to renew the software. This should all be clearly stated in the contract and if it is not, then get it changed. As it says above, don’t leave it to an inexperienced lawyer who knows little about EMR software and the types of fees they’ll charge to understand these details. Experience is valuable at this stage of the process.

Another part of the contract should be the details of how you could get the data out of your EMR should you decide to ever move to a new EMR. Access to the database schema and clearly defined data ownership are two key parts of the contract that will be needed should you choose to move to a new EMR. There’s real value in an EMR vendor knowing that you can easily move to another EMR. For some reason, those EMR vendors don’t seem to charge the outrageous unexpected renewal fees.

Many EMR companies might baulk at the idea of providing a method for providers to switch EMR companies. That might be telling you something. Yes, I definitely come from the philosophy of “If you make it easy for people to leave, they’re more likely to stay with you.” Chew on that concept for a little while.

Either way, providers need to make sure they’re protected against the unknown future. That protection comes during the EMR selection process and contract negotiation phase.

EMR Company Blogs

Posted on July 11, 2009 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

Many people don’t even realize that this website is a blog. The fact is that blogs have become so powerful that you can create an entire website powered by blog software and no one would know the difference. As you can imagine I’m a huge fan of blogs. What readers of this blog don’t realize is that beyond this blog I actually have 3 other major blogs and probably a dozen other minor ones.

Blogs have so many benefits that I won’t even begin to list them. However, I still find it amazing that I haven’t spent a penny on marketing this blog (although I did just do my first advertising trade) and yet I’m getting about 5,000 pageviews a day. On some of my other blogs with larger niches I reached over 47,000 pageviews in one day with $0 spent on marketing. It still astounds me how much traffic a well done blog can create.

As such, I’m always a fan of EMR companies that do a good job with their EMR company blog. Let me give you two examples of EMR company blogs that I think do a pretty good job on their EMR company blogs:
Straight Talk – A blog by Evan Steele the CEO of SRSsoft, a hybrid EMR company
XLEMR – An EMR company blog

Now these examples are far from perfect. I could quickly create a long laundry list of changes that wouldn’t be hard to implement that would improve their blogs substantially. They’re missing even more opportunities. However, what I like about these two blogs is some of the content they’ve created and the fact that they’re engaged in the discussion of EMR. A well done blog can not only market your EMR software, but can also be an amazing way to engage with your customers both future and current.

I’m sure there are a lot of other EMR company blogs. If you know of one, please let me know about it in the comments. I’d love to see some of the other EMR companies that are out there in the blogosphere.

More EHR Company Lines

Posted on June 4, 2009 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

I previously wrote about the reasons EHR companies use to get you to buy an EHR Now. Today I came across a post that’s really similar to my idea. The post is by Evan Steele, CEO SRSsoft and it’s entitled “From EMR Vendors: Fact or Fiction?” I think that Evan does a really good job covering some of the misconceptions/lies that are being spread by overzealous EHR salespeople in regards to the HITECH act’s EHR stimulus money. My favorite one was this:

“You must act now—buy an EHR now because in order to get the money from the government, you must be using the EMR by 2011.” As with used-car salesmen, “buy now” is always popular, but you actually have until 2013 to implement and potentially qualify for the lion’s share of the incentives.

Even if you do not implement until 2014 (5 years from now), you would still be eligible for almost 80% of the money.

EMR Marriage, EMR Divorce, EMR Pregnancy and Now Marrying an EMR for Money

Posted on May 28, 2009 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

Yes, I’ve compared EMR to Marriage and it talks about it being a huge deal to “divorce” your EMR.

Yes, I’ve compared EMR Implementation to Pregnancy.

Now I bring you what may be my most important comparison of all: Don’t marry an EMR because of money!

Sure, the allure of $18 billion of EMR stimulus money is attractive, but don’t choose an EMR because you can get that money. You shouldn’t choose someone to marry because of money and you shouldn’t choose an EMR for the EMR stimulus money as well.

Certainly you want to make sure your mate EMR company is financially sound, can provide for your needs, and is going to be around even if times get tough. However, more important than all of that is you want your EMR company to be willing to make you (the user) the center of their attention. If they do that, then you’ll have a happy “marriage” that will last for a long time to come. If you get WOW’d by the EMR stimulus money, you might just regret it later.

I could keep going about the prenup (EMR guarantees) and other similarities, but I think you get the point. Don’t buy an EMR based solely on EMR stimulus money!

Killer EMR Features According to EMR Vendors

Posted on May 13, 2009 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

I previously posted a request to hear about the “killer” EMR features that set an EMR vendor’s software apart from the other 400 EMR vendors out there. As expected, some of the people who sent me a message didn’t understand what I mean. However, a few of the responses we’re pretty interesting. I think we’ve barely scratched the surface on EMR features, so please keep submitting your best EMR feature on the contact us page.

Here’s a quick look at three of the responses from EMR vendors. I’ve added strikethroughs when it’s not a killer feature and my commentary is in italics.

First up is SRSSoft‘s killer EMR feature:
The SRS hybrid EMR is a killer EMR, with the prime killer feature being “speed.” Speed is built into the hybrid EMR throughout, and is delivered in three primary ways—click minimization, OpenPath™ technology, and robust messaging.Speed is a killer featuring and an EMR company focusing on speed and calculating clicks makes it a killer feature.

SRS conducts time-motion studies to minimize the number of clicks and the number of seconds it takes for physicians to accomplish their most frequent clinical tasks. For example, a prescription can be written and approved with 2 clicks, and an image can be viewed with only one click. Additionally, the SRS nonproprietary OpenPath™ technology foundation allows the seamless “plug-in” of other applications—physicians can access a myriad of programs containing patient information directly from within the patient chart, without having to waste time toggling back and forth between SRS and other applications.I would have liked to see a list of applications which are already integrated, but an API(Application Interface) in an EMR is a really cool feature.

Furthermore, SRS Messaging automatically attaches the complete patient chart to every message between staff members, which means that when key information is needed to make a quick clinical decision and respond to a message, the information is only one click away.One click access to the patient chart is nice. I wonder how many clicks it takes to tie the message to the chart in the first place.

Speed, Fewer Clicks and an API are definitely killer features of an EMR. I’d be interested to try SRSsoft to see if they can really deliver these features. Regardless, I wish every EMR company was as focused on the number of clicks and the speed of their application.

XLEMR.com said the following:
Simplicity – Built on the single most widly used small business software in the world (Microsoft Office), XLEMR is as simple as Outlook, Word, and Excel. It’s not uncommon for doc’s to sit down and start using XLEMR with no training…I’d like to see how well a doctor uses this EMR with no training. No doubt office is a familiar application to many. However, I’m surprised how often doctors need to be trained on simple things in Word like saving a file to a specific location. Assuming a doctor can sit down and use it with no training, that’s a killer EMR feature.

Inexpensive – XLEMR works on your old hardware and software you already own. There is no server or database to crash and maintain. There is no dependence on the internet. There is no annual maintenance agreement and because it’s Microsoft you can improve it yourself or hire your nephew…Some might argue that these are all reasons why you should not implement this EMR. For example, there’s some benefits to having a database that anyone can access anywhere you have internet (which is everywhere these days). Not to mention more reliable server hardware compared to desktop hardware. However, this could be a killer EMR feature for certain practices.

Efficient – Chart established patients in 3 minutes including the exam, the orders, the labs, the coding, the note is faxed out to referring physicians, the prescription is faxed or printed or e-prescribed or all of the above, the bililng is done…I had to strike this one out for now. Every EMR vendor makes this claim more or less. I just don’t see that happening for most visits using just Word. I’d love to see some proof of this in a video or something. It also seems to contradict the “no dependence on internet” point above since so many of those things require internet to be done well.

Easy Implementation – Download, Install, Configure, and chart your first patient in 1hr or less…An hour is a seriously short period of time, however, a number of other EMR are claiming 5 minute EMR installs. I personally think that it’s all a bit of marketing spin. There are just far too many customizations people have to make and things people have to learn in order to implement an EMR.

Nice work XLEMR. Simplicity and inexpensive are both really killer features of an EMR. Executing on those two things will make a lot of doctors really happy. I can’t help but wonder what you might be missing as far as reporting and accessibility of records, but that’s not the point of this. The point is to learn about and share killer features that every EMR can try to obtain.

Next up, BennPenn:
Our program, BennPen, is different from most EMR systems because:
1. Our is simple to use. I believe many Drs. who have tried EMRs have rejected them
because they are complicated and difficult to use and the Drs find it takes longer to use
the program than to write the notes as they always have.
This could be a really killer EMR feature, but I’d need to know a specific example of how it’s simpler than other EMR. It’s not just enough to say it’s simple.
2. Our program is customized for each Dr. We load the templates, forms, letters the Doctor
uses into BennPen so he or she continues to chart with the forms they are familiar
with.This is an awesome feature. Many doctors love to chart the way they’re use to charting. I’m sure that many EMR purists will argue that it’s not a real EMR if you don’t capture granular data. However, I think there’s a middle ground that should be considered. Also, what makes this description a killer EMR feature is that the EMR vendor loads the templates for the doctor.
3. The Doctor can use voice, drop-down lists, or a combination of the two. Every EMR vendor can do this, no?
4. Our program is less expensive than many – $3,000 plus $500 for each Dr. over 1 in the
office.I’m always happy to help inform people that the price of EMR doesn’t have to be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. That’s what makes lower priced EMR a killer feature.
So, BennPenn added customized EMR templates (loaded by the EMR vendor) and low cost EMR. Two really great features.

I think we’re just barely scratching the surface on what makes an EMR vendor special. Although, maybe the lesson here is that it’s the core features that every EMR claims to offer that makes them special. Maybe I should rephrase the question. Instead of asking about a killer feature, maybe I should be comparing the same feature across multiple EMR systems and highlighting what makes each EMR systems implementation of that feature unique, different and/or better. I’m going to have to think on this one.