Does Patient Interaction Lock a Doctor In to an EHR?

Posted on March 28, 2013 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’ve been thinking a lot lately about EHR vendor lock in. I think this was prompted by some stories I’ve heard of EHR vendors holding clinics EHR data “hostage” when the clinic chooses to switch EHR software. I heard one case recently that was going to cost the clinic a few hundred thousand dollars to get their EHR data out of their old EHR software. It’s a travesty and an issue that I want to help work to solve this year (more on that in the future).

I think it’s such a failed model for an EHR vendor to try to keep you as their EHR customer by holding your EHR data hostage. There are so many other ways for an EHR vendor to keep you as a customer that it’s such a huge mistake to use EHR data liquidity to keep customers. EHR vendors that choose to do this will likely pay the price long term since doctors love to talk about their EHR with other doctors. If a doctor is locked into an EHR they dislike, then you can be sure that their physician colleagues won’t be selecting that EHR.

There are a whole series of better ways to lock an EHR customer in long term. The best way being providing an amazing EHR product.

I recently considered another way that I think most EHR vendors aren’t using to create a strong relationship with their physician customers. Think about the strength of a company’s relationship with a doctor if a doctor’s patients are all familiar with their connection to the EHR. If a physician-patient interaction occurs regularly through the EHR, then it’s very unlikely that a doctor is going to switch EHR software.

The most obvious patient interaction that occurs is through a patient portal that’s connected to a provider’s EHR. Once a clinic has gotten a large portion of their patients connected to an EHR patient portal, then it makes it really hard for a doctor to consider switching from that EHR. It’s one thing for a doctor to change their workflow because they dislike their EHR. Add in the cost of getting patients to switch from a portal they have been using and I can see many doctors sticking with an EHR because of their patients.

Of course, from a doctor perspective, there’s some value in selecting an EHR that uses a 3rd party patient portal. That way if you choose to switch EHR software, then you can still consider keeping your interaction with patients the same through the same third party patient portal. Although, there’s some advantage to using the patient portal from the EHR vendor as well. It’s not an easy decision.