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Willingness To Invest In Outpatient EHRs and PM Solutions Grows

Posted on September 15, 2017 I Written By

Anne Zieger is a healthcare journalist who has written about the industry for 30 years. Her work has appeared in all of the leading healthcare industry publications, and she's served as editor in chief of several healthcare B2B sites.

While the ambulatory EHR market remains somewhat stable, the number of organizations preparing to get out of their existing system has climbed over previous years, along with an increase in the number of organizations prepared to upgrade their practice management solution, according to new data from HIMSS.

To conduct the 9th Annual Outpatient PM & EHR Study, HIMSS Analytics reached out to physicians, practice managers/administrators, practice CEOs/presidents, PAs, NPs and practice IT directors/staff. A total of 436 professionals responded to its web-based survey.

The survey concluded that 93% of hospital-owned outpatient facilities had a live, in-operation EMR in place. Meanwhile, 70% of respondents representing free-standing outpatient facilities said they had an EHR in place, down from 78% last year.

As part of its survey, HIMSS Analytics asked respondents whether they planned to purchase an entirely new ambulatory EHR system, replace the existing system upgrade the system within the next two years.

The responses suggest that there’s been some new movement in the ambulatory EHR market. Most notably, 10.6% of respondents said they plan to replace their current solution, up from 6.4% in 2014. This is arguably a significant change. Also, 23.8% respondents said they were upgrading their current ambulatory solution, up from 20.8% in 2014.

In addition, the number of respondents with no investment plans fell below 60% for the first time in four years, HIMSS Analytics noted.

Though the practice management system market seems to be a bit more stable, some churn appears to be emerging here as well. Eleven percent of respondents said they plan to upgrade their current PM solution, down from 20.8% in 2014, and 9.3% said they plan to replace their current system, up from 6.4% in 2014.

All in all, there’s not a great deal of replacement activity underway, though the data does suggest a small spike. That being said, I was interested to note that respondents’ willingness to invest in a new system was higher than their willingness to upgrade a system they have.

The question is, why would ambulatory providers be ready to junk their existing EHR and practice management solutions now as opposed to three years ago? Are we reaching the end of a grand health IT replacement cycle or is there more going on here?

One possibility is that with MACRA kicking in, outpatient providers have been forced to reevaluate their existing systems in terms of their ability to support participation in QPP. Another fairly obvious possibility is that ambulatory providers are choosing to systems they feel can support their movement into value-based care.

From what I can tell, providers choosing new systems for these reasons are actually a bit behind the curve, but not terribly so. When their peers attempt to push forward with their three, four or even five-year-old systems, then you may see a replacement frenzy. Sometimes you just can’t afford to stick with Old Faithful.

The Misguided EHR Replacement Decision

Posted on March 22, 2017 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.

This post is part of the Breakaway Thinking blog post series which is sponsored by Breakaway Learning Solutions, a Conduent Company.

Almost every healthcare organization I meet is talking about how to get better adoption of their EHR software. They’ve implemented their EHR as part of a massive go live. Many are even doing fine with programs like meaningful use and are working on MACRA. However, they all realize that adoption of their EHR software by end users could be better than it is today.

During these conversations, it’s easy to see how some organizations slip into the thinking that if they replaced their EHR with a new one that somehow that would spur more adoption and EHR use by their end users. When you hear users complaining about EHR software, it’s easy to blame the software itself. This is a dangerous line of thinking because that’s just not how it works. Switching EHR software does little to improve adoption of EHR by end users. EHR adoption problems that exist with one EHR are likely to exist in any new EHR.

That’s not to say there aren’t legitimate reasons for you to switch EHR. There are many good reasons to switch EHR software including when your organization is bought out and you want to align EHR software or when your product is being sunset. These can be good reasons to switch EHR and there are many more. However, it’s usually a mistake to switch EHR when you don’t have a good strategic reason to switch and lack of adoption is not a good strategic reason to switch.

When EHR adoption is lacking in your organization, instead of considering switching EHR, look at doubling down on your existing EHR. Core to successfully “doubling down” is leadership. Heather Haugen highlights this fundamental principle in her whitepaper “Leadership Insights: Gaining Value from Technology Investments when she says, “Organizations with leaders who are fully invested in the daily march toward adoption will reach the early stages of adoption quicker and enjoy a reinforced cycle of meaningful clinical and financial outcomes.”

The most successful organizations I’ve seen are led by people who understand that EHR adoption is not a one time event, but is an ongoing process of workflow improvement, training, and process modification. The value an EHR can provide is extracted as organizations incrementally improve their use of the EHR. It doesn’t happen by accident or by happenstance. It requires thoughtful and well executed leadership.

The idea of replacing your EHR to improve EHR adoption and use is often just an easy way out from addressing the real reasons why EHR use in your organization is not optimal. When this happens, you’re still generally faced with the same hard challenges after replacing your EHR. Don’t fall into this trap in your organization. If there’s not a strategic reason to replace your EHR software, then don’t. Take the energy you’d have spent replacing your EHR and make a deeper investment in optimizing your current EHR usage. That investment will pay off far more than an EHR switch.

Learn more about the Breakaway Thinking blog series sponsor, Breakaway Learning Solutions, and download their FREE whitepaper “Leadership Insights: Gaining Value from Technology Investments.”

EHR Replacement Roadmap to Success

Posted on July 29, 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.

We’re just now starting down the road of the EHR replacement cycle. Meaningful use has driven many to adopt an EHR too quickly and now the buyer’s remorse is setting in and we’re going to see a wave of EHR replacements. Some organizations are going to wait until meaningful use runs it course, but many won’t even be able to wait.

With this prediction in mind, I was interested by this Allscripts whitepaper: Key Hidden Reasons Your EHR Is Not Sustainable and What To Do About It. I always learn a lot about a company when I read whitepapers like this one. It says a lot about the way the company thinks and where they’re taking their company.

For example, in the whitepaper, Allscripts provides a list of questions to consider when looking to replace your EHR:

  • How do you DEPLOY the right core IT systems to succeed with value-based care?
  • How do you CONNECT to coordinate care with key stakeholders and manage your population?
  • How do you better ENGAGE patients in their own health?
  • How do you analyze mountains of raw data to ADVANCE patient and financial outcomes?
  • How do you get everyone within your own organization to FOLLOW THE ROADMAP to EHR success?

You can see that these questions share a certain view of where healthcare IT and EHR is headed. Imagine how this criteria would compare with the criteria for EHR selection even five years ago. Although, I wonder how many doctors really share this type of approach to EHR selection. Do doctors really want their EHR to handle the above list? Should they be worrying about the above items?

I don’t doubt that doctors are going to be more involved in population health and they’re going to need to engage patients more. However, this list does seem to lack some of the practical realities that doctors still need from their EHR. In fact, as I write this, I wonder if it’s still too early to know what a next generation EHR will need to include. Of course, that won’t stop frustrated EHR users from replacing their EHR just the same.