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EHR Vendors Need to Expand Their Definition of Customer Service

Posted on July 21, 2014 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.

Living in Las Vegas I likely have a skewed idea of what customer service means. In the tech world, we have Zappos headquarters in downtown Las Vegas. Most of you are likely familiar with Zappos unique approach to customer service. They really have taken customer service to the next level and created an entire company culture around the customer service they provide. The same could be said for the experience that the various casinos on the strip offer their customers. They do a really amazing job at most casinos providing an amazing customer service experience.

With this background, I find it really smart of Kareo to open an office in Las Vegas. Although, that’s not really the point of this post. Instead, I want to focus on the idea that most EHR vendors need expand their idea of customer service.

As I look at the world of EHR customer service I see so many organization lacking. Certainly we see examples of terrible EHR customer service that include calling into a call center in another country where the person doesn’t speak English and has no power to actually solve a user’s problems (Disclaimer: I don’t have a problem with call centers in other countries if they are well trained and can actually solve problems). Of course, the same thing can apply to a call center in the US who can’t solve the users’ actual problems. Both are terrible customer service and a problem in the industry. However, there’s a far more painful problem that I don’t think most EHR vendors consider a part of their customer service plan and 99% of EHR vendors have done terrible at this.

Adding new features and accommodating an EHR user’s feature request is just as much a part of the EHR customer service experience as the person who answers the phone. I can assure you that every EHR vendor out there would get rated an F the past few years when it comes to this form of EHR customer service. Why do I know this? I know this because every EHR vendor has been focused on meaningful use that they haven’t had the time to add any meaningful EHR user feature requests and features outside of meaningful use.

This isn’t EHR vendors’ fault. The end users have required it and EHR vendors have had to spend the time doing it. However, EHR customer service has suffered as a consequence. Don’t believe me. Look through all the EHR press releases that have been released over the past couple years. Find me the plethora of press releases that talk about the innovations that EHR vendors have created for their end users that aren’t related to meaningful use. I get the press releases and they’re MIA.

That’s not to say that EHR vendors have done nothing for end users. They’ve made some incremental progress on a few things, but meaningful use has zapped their development time. Stage 2 was even worse. I look forward to the new day where EHR vendors can focus on great customer service and EHR features and not just MU.

EMR Innovation and the Future of EMR – #HIMSS11

Posted on February 24, 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 that my previous post about lack of EMR innovation at HIMSS was a little more controversial than I expected it to be. Plus, I’m not sure that I communicated the entire message about EMR innovation and the future of EMR software in healthcare (I’m blaming the late nights and lack of sleep).

I’m still suffering the HIMSS hangover and on this too small to type well netbook, but let me try and add some more context to the previous post.

One person emailed me about my “disappointment with EMR software.” I’d be careful to characterize it as disappointment with the EMR industry. I’m really optimistic about the future of EMR. I still think they’re a great value proposition and that EVERY (leave a few rural settings aside) doctor should and will have an EMR and technology in their office. I guess the disappointment is mostly that meaningful use has killed some of the innovation that could have made EMR even more exciting.

One thing seems to be clear. Every EMR vendor that I talked to has conformed with the meaningful use guidelines. So, inasmuch as you see the meaningful use guidelines as innovative, EMR vendors are certainly hitting those guidelines.

Janice commented on my other post that she was optimistic because meaningful use gets content stored electronically and that will unleash the real power of technology. One thing that can’t be argued is the increased interest and focus on EMR software. That I believe will have a great effect on EMR software and I’m optimistic that doctors and clinics will generally do what’s right and best in selecting and implementing EMR software. Plus, while a little harsh to mention, doctors that are on their second EMR implementation do much better and rarely get it wrong the second time.

One vendor described it well when they mentioned that their original business was a great and useful service, but it wasn’t the heart of any clinics business. Thus their move to EMR (although, there were other reasons also). Either way, the message they sent was clear: EMR will be the heart of every medical practice.

With that message in mind, I want EMR vendors to take this to heart and improve their applications in innovative ways for both patients, doctors and healthcare in general. I look forward to seeing those iPad-onian innovations in EHR software. Just like none of us expected or predicted the impact of the iPad. I don’t know where exactly a similar innovation will come in EMR. However, I look forward to it and believe we’ll see many many iPad-onian innovations in healthcare IT.

EMRandHIPAA.com’s HIMSS11 coverage is sponsored by Practice Fusion, provider of the free, web-based Electronic Medical Records (EMR) system used by over 70,000 healthcare providers in the US.

EHR Innovations Have Gone Missing at HIMSS11

Posted on February 23, 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.

One of the most disappointing parts of HIMSS for me is that the really creative and disruptive innovations are missing from HIMSS. There are a few items I saw like the Shareable Ink technology, some of the Nuance NLP/voice recognition work, and a pretty cool biometric kiosk by Fujitsu (which I’ll blog about later). Sadly I wasn’t seeing the really creative innovation coming from the EMR companies (and I talked to a lot of them) at HIMSS. I think there’s two possible things at play in this regard.

First, meaningful use is probably largely to blame for much of the lack of innovation that I saw. As someone told me, the regulation of EHR software has damaged and deterred the innovation. I guess you could say I’ve seen some interesting and innovative ways to approach meaningful use, but being innovative in meeting a government regulation is not the innovation I want to see. I think it’s generally clear that EMR vendors have spent the last development cycle focused on EHR certification and meaningful use.

I asked one large EMR vendor about this idea and what innovations their EHR had available. I don’t think he was very comfortable with the assertion. In response, he described how at his EMR company, they had a team that was focused on EHR certification and the meaningful use requirements but that they also had a whole other group that was focused on customer’s needs and meeting those customer needs.

It’s incredibly interesting that so many EHR vendors responded to my innovation (or what differentiated them from other vendors) by playing the EMR usability or “Doctors like using our EMR” better card. That’s related to the above, we have a group that focuses on our customer’s needs.

Certainly focusing on customer requests and needs is vital. However, it seems fitting to mention the oft quoted, “If I asked my customers what they wanted, they’d have said a faster horse. – Henry Ford” Seems like HIMSS was just displaying the faster “horses” [EMR].

A second possibility is that maybe EMR software has become a commodity. Maybe the reason we don’t see that much innovation is because EMR software has now basically become a commodity. I certainly heard many EMR vendors suggest that EMR is basically a commodity service now and that many other factors will determine the success of the EMR company instead of the EMR software itself. I argue that once you reach a certain set of features, functions and successful installs that the software itself does become secondary to the success of most EMR companies. Does that mean EMR is a commodity?

The other angle that a few new EMR vendors are taking is that EMR is not a commodity. It’s just that all the current EMR software is junk. Most then like to compare EMR software to tablets. The Apple iPad came along and finally presented what amounts to an incredibly well thought out and designed tablet and is destroying the market. These new EMR vendors see their product as the innovative “iPad” of EMR software.

Only problem is that I have yet to see any EMR company have an iPad-onian moment.

I could easily argue that the iPad was the most marketed IT device on the HIMSS exhibit floor. Yet, an Apple booth was absolutely no where to be seen.

I wonder what kind of EHR could be so innovative and disruptive that it would be the talk of HIMSS even if they didn’t exhibit?

EMRandHIPAA.com’s HIMSS11 coverage is sponsored by Practice Fusion, provider of the free, web-based Electronic Medical Records (EMR) system used by over 70,000 healthcare providers in the US.