EHR Vendor Consolidation

Posted on June 10, 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.

What happened in the M&A arena had interesting ramifications, but what didn’t happen might be equally significant: The overcrowded electronic health records market didn’t consolidate.

Well over 200 EHR vendors are fighting for meaningful use business. How crowded is the field? As of mid-April, the federal government lists 393 Complete or Modular certified ambulatory EHR products, along with 182 certified inpatient Complete or Modular products.

There were several good reasons for the non-event, but consolidation’s got to come soon, says Rob Tholemeier, senior research analyst at Crosstree Capital Partners, a Tampa-based corporate financial advisory firm. “There has never in the history of software been 200-plus companies selling similar functionality,” he notes. “Less than a dozen-maybe a dozen at most-will survive.” –Source

I always find these reports on the EHR market fascinating. I’ve done some analyst work for a few companies that are looking at the EhR market. I should probably do more since it’s pretty fun to be able to provide investors a view at what I see happening in the EMR and EHR market.

I agree with the above statement that it’s been a little bit surprising that we haven’t seen more consolidation in the EHR market. I think we can all agree that there are far too many EHR vendors out there right now. I’m all about competition, but this many competitors makes it really hard for the clinician to choose an EHR. Certainly this is going to change.

The above linked article suggests that most of the EHR consolidation would be through attrition instead of acquisition. I don’t totally agree with this theory. There will be a nice mix of both. Although, I believe that acquisition of EHR vendors will actually be more common than EMR vendors shutting down the business.

Plus, while we will see some consolidation, I totally disagree with the above quoted articles assertion that the EHR market will consolidate down to “a dozen at most” EHR vendors. I’ll be surprised if we get down to 100 different EHR vendors. The SaaS EHR vendor business model just doesn’t need that many doctors using their system to work. Unlike many other industries, I think that there’s a whole set of very conservative EHR vendors who can run their business very well with a small subset of providers.

Of course these EHR vendors are always looking to grow, but I see many of these companies ready for the long EHR grind. They’ve been very conservative in their approaches and can last a very long time with their current EHR user base. Many aren’t even trained in the thinking of how to exit the business. They’re entrenched and ready for a long battle. So, while we’ll see some consolidation of the EHR industry, don’t believe these analysts that are predicting a massive consolidation to a handful of companies.