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The EHR Market Isn’t Like Other Markets

Posted on March 18, 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.

Today at a healthcare IT meetup I attended in Dallas I ran into a former contact at an EHR vendor. He no longer works at that EHR company and has moved on to two other companies. In our discussion we had an interesting discussion about the market. Having moved on, he’d lost touch with the EHR market. He asked me, “Are there still 700 EHR vendors?” I told him there were probably 300, but I’ve contended that their have been 300 EHR vendors for a while. I’m not counting the hundreds of ancillary companies that are “certified EHR” but only perform 1-2 EHR related functions.

Over and over again I hear people talking about consolidation of EHR vendors. They say it’s going to happen and we’re going to get down to a really small number of EHR vendors. Some go as far as saying that there will be 2-3 EHR vendors after EHR consolidation happens.

I think this idea is ridiculous. At HIMSS, I figured out why I don’t think it’s going to happen. Someone told me, “Ambulatory healthcare is fragmented. It’s second only to florists when it comes to market fragmentation.”

This to me illustrates exactly why there can and will be so many EHR vendors. The ambulatory market is completely fragmented with thousands of really small businesses (ie. solo doc) doing just fine. Think about it. There are very few businesses that could survive at the size of a solo doctor practice. In every other industry, the businesses the size of a solo doc practice get eating up as the big boy competitors kill them with their buying power. The same can’t be said in healthcare. A solo doctor practice is a very viable business. Thus we see the market fragmentation and the plethora of EHR companies.

The above analysis does make you wonder why the solo doctor practice is still a viable business and if something in the future will make that option unreasonable from a business perspective. Although, that’s a subject for a future blog post.

Of course, when you think about the hospital EMR market there’s a much different story. We’ve seen EHR consolidation. The hospital market is much less fragmented and becoming less so every day. However, I’ll still be surprised if we go below 100 ambulatory EHR vendors.

Epic API, EMR Market Saturation, and Faith in Clinical Decision Support

Posted on September 22, 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.


Vince asks a good question. I wrote a little bit previously about the Epic User Group Meeting where they announced the Epic API. I definitely think there’s still a lot of missed opportunity for the announced Epic API, but hopefully what they’ve released is successful so it encourages them to open up their API much more.


I’ve been writing a lot lately about the changing EMR marketplace (see Golen Age of EHR Over). This prediction offers a new insight I hadn’t covered. The market could decrease because many of the larger purchases are already done. So, that could slow the EHR spending.


I wish I could find this talk. I’m really interested in how properly implemented clinical decision support can save lives. That’s what this should be about anyway, no?

EMR Market Topped $20B Last Year

Posted on May 2, 2013 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.

As we all know, last year was a huge year for EMR adoption. How big?  Well, according to new data from research firm Kalorama Information, the EMR market hit $20 billion in 2012, driven by health IT upgrades and the desire for Meaningful Use incentive payments.

According to Kalorama, the EMR market was $20.7 billion last year, up 15 percent from the $17.9 billion it reached in 2011.  These numbers include revenue for EMR systems, CPOE systems and directly-related services such as installation, training, servicing and consulting.

Kalorama expects near year to be big as well, as providers implement EMR systems in an effort to avoid government penalties for sticking to paper charts.

More than $12.3 billion in Meaningful Use incentive payments had been doled out to 219,000 eligible hospitals and healthcare professionals as of March 1, 2013, with the incentives largely driving physician adoption of EMRs.

A recent CMS study reported that over 70 percent of physicians have used EMR systems, a huge jump from the 26 percent which had used these systems in 2006.  Hospital EMR installlations, meanwhile,  have been maturing, with 77 percent having reached Stage 3 or higher, compared  with 71 percent in 2011.

Going forward, Kalorama predicts that EMR adoption will continue to increase, that hospital adoption will be more rapid than physician adoption and that hospitals currently at adoption Stage 3 will continue to increase their engagement with their systems. The research firm also predicts that current EMR owners will be upgrading their systems.

Meanwhile, researchers say, the threat of penalties for failing to use EMRs meaningfully will force both doctors and hospitals to make upgrades over the next year or so.

While Kalorama doesn’t mention this, the next year or two is also likely to be marked by “the big switch,” with doctors in particular changing out systems that haven’t proven effective to date.  The likelihood that doctors will be buying new systems is likely to lead to a gangbuster year for ambulatory HIT vendors.

Meaningful Use EHR Breakout by Percentage

Posted on June 20, 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.

I’ve seen a bunch of different websites listing the top 10 EHR vendors based on physicians who attested to meaningful use using their EHR software. This list is certainly interesting and worthy of a discussion. However, I think it’s also important to put these numbers in some context. Remember that these numbers are just for the ambulatory EHR space. The Hospital EHR numbers are a different story which I’ll probably cover on Hospital EMR and EHR.

Here are the EHR incentive numbers by EHR vendor and also the percentage of meaningful use attestations they had (Thanks to Dr. Rowley for the numbers):

EHR Vendor MU Attestations Percentage
Epic 11075 23%
Allscripts 5743 12%
eCW 4057 8%
NextGen 2237 5%
GE 2002 4%
Athena 1733 4%
Greenway 1650 3%
Cerner 1375 3%
MEDENT (Previously Community Computer Service) 1264 3%
e-MDs 1235 3%
Practice Fusion 1156 2%
Sage 1140 2%
Other EHRs (272) 14358 29%

As Dr. Rowley points out in his post, Epic is the largest vendor on the list, but they don’t market or sale their product to independent clinics or even independent physician groups. Epic’s ambulatory EHR is found in owned or affiliated clinics who use the ambulatory piece of the EHR an Epic hospital buys. So, the above Epic number actually provides an insight into how many ambulatory practices are associated with Epic using hospitals.

The numbers tell an interesting story if you take Epic out of the mix:

EHR Vendor MU Attestations Percentage
Allscripts 5743 15%
eCW 4057 11%
NextGen 2237 6%
GE 2002 5%
Athena 1733 5%
Greenway 1650 4%
Cerner 1375 4%
MEDENT (Previously Community Computer Service) 1264 3%
e-MDs 1235 3%
Practice Fusion 1156 3%
Sage 1140 3%
Other EHRs (272) 14358 38%

Once you take out the hospital dominance in the ambulatory market, the EHR market share for any one EHR vendor is quite small. In fact, the other EHR vendor category has 38% of the EHR market. The long tail of EHR software is definitely at play right now.

Plus, we have to be really careful using meaningful use attestation as a proxy for the EHR market. I recently saw a figure that only 20% of the ambulatory EHR market had attested to meaningful use. That’s right, the above numbers only represent 20% of the ambulatory market.

If my math is correct, that still leaves almost 200,000 providers that aren’t represented in the above analysis of 50k providers. Imagine an EHR vendor comes along that’s so great that they quickly capture only 20% of the 200,000 uncounted providers (no small feat). That would give them about 40,000 providers and using the above numbers they would have 45% of the EHR market (including Epic).

Of course, the current EHR vendors will continue to sale EHR software and many will switch EHR software vendors during that time as well. Plus, no doubt many of those who haven’t attested to meaningful use already have an EHR, but aren’t represented in the numbers above. They just either don’t care about meaningful use and EHR incentive money or they’re still working to get to the point where they can attest to meaningful use. However, I still think the above numbers illustrate that there’s plenty of opportunity available for an upstart EHR company to get plenty of EHR market share.

It’s going to be an exciting next couple years as we watch all of this shake out. We’ll take a look back at this post in a few years to see how far we’ve come.

Major EMR Vendor Consolidation On The Verge

Posted on June 14, 2012 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.

Note: This is a post by Katherine Rourke. Tomorrow watch for a post by John on EMR and EHR where he discusses some of his views on this discussion.

While it may not be immediately obvious, the EMR industry is at a major turning point in its history. Any day now, we’re going to see a bunch of mergers and acquisitions go off like a string of firecrackers, some of which may have a direct impact on your business.

Now, I don’t know how many EMR companies there are out there. In fact, I’m not sure anyone has a precise count. But can we agree that we’re looking at 1,000 or more, no?  And, heck, there’s probably thousands of companies pitching practice management + EMR,  medication management systems, clinical decision support, apps, mobile health plug-ins to EMRs and so on. Just visualize it all — you’ll get a headache but you’ll doubtless agree that we’re dealing with a raging flood of technology.

And most of it won’t stand alone forever. Every vendor likes to say that their product line has all the solutions, but even the most green sales rep doesn’t really believe that. Smart EMR tech firms and their natural allies are already beginning the mating dance, and quietly but inexorably, hooking up.

Since this isn’t the Wall Street Journal, I’m sure we don’t need to dig into deep financial discussion over this. And anyone who’s a regular reader of this site knows why software companies often buy rather than build the technologies they need to fill out their portfolio.

But I thought it was still worth noting that within, say, 18 months, the EMR world could look fairly different in the following ways:

* EMRs aimed at doctors are overabundant, to put it mildly. I predict that there will be a dozen or so well-publicized failures or buyouts in this space within the next year.

* Big vendors that pitch to both enterprises and medical practices will largely have to pick one,and it’s the enterprise side that will win. If you’re a doctor running a giant company’s EMR, stay in regular touch with your vendor and get their support promises in writing!

* There will be a flurry of mHealth activity, with EMRs that play nicely on tablets in center stage.  It’s possible the market will even support another IPO or two this year by EMR vendors if they’re offering a nifty mobile health aspect integrated with their core product.

* Doctors, in particular, risk finding that their product becomes abandonware this year as the market consolidates.  Have a Plan B available, and I mean a written plan developed by a consultant or tech-savvy senior member of your team.

So, what else do you think will happen as the market absorbs excess players and recombines relationships?

Top Healthcare IT Vendors by Revenue

Posted on May 2, 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.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the now a year old Hospital EMR and EHR, you should check it out and subscribe to the email list. The site has been growing like gang busters and people are loving the content on that site. I’d wanted to do a hospital EHR focused website for a long time. Certainly there’s a lot of cross over between ambulatory EHR and hospital EHR, but there are also unique differences in the hospital EHR environment that were definitely worthy of their own discussion platform. Plus, we like to cover other aspects of hospital IT.

One of the recent series that Anne Zieger started on Hospital EMR and EHR is called the Top Hospital HIS Vendors by Revenue. She’s already covered the top 3: McKesson, Cerner, and Siemens. She’ll be going through the rest of the Top 10 Hospital HIS vendors by revenue over the next weeks.

It’s really fascinating and amazing to see the enormous revenue numbers that each of these companies produce. Even more amazing is that we’re really only at the beginning of EHR adoption. There is so much of the EHR market that still is out there waiting to implement an EMR solution.

Of course, the real question is which vendor is going to capture this market share and which company will eventually be created that will take the market share from the incumbents. I’m sure it’s hard for many to believe that some upstart company could take down these large companies, but it will happen. That’s the cycle that occurs over and over again. Although, I will make the prediction that we won’t see much jostling in the hospital EHR space during the HITECH EHR incentive money time frame. The opportunity to take market share will likely happen post EHR incentive money.

Top Health Industry Issues of 2011 – “Top 10” Health IT List Series

Posted on December 28, 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.

Next up in our evaluation of the various end of 2011 Health IT lists series is one that takes a bit of a look back at 2011. In this list, PwC lists what they consider the Top Health Industry Issues of 2011. The list starts with an interesting comment about the health IT spending in 2011:

More than $88.6 billion was spent by providers in 2010 on developing and implementing electronic health records (EHRs), health information exchanges (HIEs) and other initiatives. This surge is a sign of technology’s critical place in health system improvement.

$88.6 billion is a lot of health IT spending and larger than most numbers I’ve seen. Although, most numbers I’ve seen are only the EMR and EHR market and doesn’t include HIE spending and other healthcare IT initiatives. It’s quite clear that the health IT spending is up, and up Big!

Their list of top Health issues isn’t that surprising, except possibly one of them:

Meaningful Use – This has to be topic number one for health IT in 2011. It’s had a trans formative effect on healthcare IT and EMR and EHR as we know them. Pretty much every EHR vendor I’ve talked to basically had to take an entire software development life cycle to meet the meaningful use and certified EHR requirements. This is the dramatic effect of meaningful use on EHR development.

PwC actually focuses on how meaningful use will encourage patient participation in their healthcare or “shared medical decision-making.” To be honest, I’m not sure meaningful use has done much to help this goal, yet(?). Possibly meaningful use stage 2 and meaningful use stage 3 will help to further these goals. MU stage 1 has done little to encourage this. Regardless of the impact of meaningful use, shared medical decision-making is going forward fast and furious.

HIPAA 5010 and ICD-10 – The interesting issue for 5010 and ICD-10 is that they’ve basically been overwhelmed by meaningful use and EHR incentive money. Either of these changes alone would have been a reasonable challenge for a normal year. However, clinical organizations are battling through 5010, ICD-10 and meaningful use all at the same time. Are there any other IT projects going on that don’t involved these three things? I’d say probably very few.

Electronic medical device reporting (eMDR) – I found this point quite interesting. There’s been a lot of movement in 2011 in regards to what constitutes a medical device and who should take care of tracking and collecting the adverse events that occur on these devices. I don’t think we’ve come to a final conclusion on what will be considered a medical device and how we’re going to deal with reporting adverse events, but finally getting electronic reporting of adverse events is a good step in the right direction.

Be sure to read the rest of my Health IT Top 10 as they’re posted.

More EMR Software On the Way

Posted on November 27, 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 my all time favorite posts I’ve done was called “Develop Your Own EMR….Are you Crazy?” Hard to believe that was back in May of 2006. I should go back and check out the content of that post, but the title still rings very true to me. Of course, every entrepreneur that I know is a little bit crazy, so it should come as no surprised that I’m hearing all the time about new EMR software getting ready to hit the market.

Today’s encounter has to be one of the most unique. I was going to church in another state (visiting family for the Holidays) and I ran into one of my high school friends at church. We caught up and I learned that he’s the owner of a software development company. Then, as he learned what I was doing he just mentioned off hand that they were developing an EMR.

After I picked myself up off the floor, the meeting at church started so I didn’t really get a chance to talk to him. Since he’s my friend on Facebook (you know, a real friend that I know in real life type of Facebook friend), I sent him a message and hopefully we can connect. I’m really intrigued that his software development house is doing an EMR for someone. Obviously, now I have a ton of questions for him about the project. He did say before the meeting started that “it’s a BIG project.”

Of course, the message here is that there are a lot of people out there that are crazy (no offense intended) enough to start building another EMR. The problem is that there are so many doctors that are dissatisfied with the EMR software that’s out there, I’m sure until that’s resolved we’ll see more and more EMR software entrants. Oh, if only these brave souls knew what they were getting themselves into. I guess maybe that’s the beauty and key to entrepreneurship and why I love it so much.

The Commodity EMR, EMR Adoption and Other EMR Tweets

Posted on October 30, 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.

Time to go through some interesting Tweets from the world of EMR and EHR.

@glevin1 – gary levin
Commodization of EMR | HealthWorks Collective

There was a link on this tweet too, but it looked like a link to a page that stole the content from the original article. I’ve been intrigued by the question of whether EMR is a commodity software or not for a while now. I still haven’t come to a firm conclusion. This article uses the idea that you can buy Allscripts MyWay at Costco as a way to say that EMR is a commodity. You can also buy eCW at Sam’s Club I believe. Although, as best I can tell, that was basically a PR move on the various EHR vendors part.

Also, the article says that Allscripts MyWay product came from the purchase of Misys. Actually, I think MyWay was originally Aprima. I believe the Misys EHR software is set to be sunset.

What do you think? Is EMR a commodity?

@BrianSMcGowan – Brian S. McGowan PhD
Percent of US PCPs using EMR = 17% in ’00’ – 28% in ’06’ – 46% in ’09’ (vs 99% in Netherlands) #socialQI #progress??

The link on this one was to a terribly long PDF file. So, I cut it out. I just wish I knew where Brian got his numbers. I call BS on the US having 46% EHR adoption in 2009. I still put us at about 25% EHR adoption now. Maybe a little higher if I’m being generous. Of course, a lot of people define EHR a lot of different ways. So, that might be part of the issue.

@DRZORBA – Zorba Paster
Back to the clinic. Everyone brings their records with them. No EMR here. If they lose their record then they’re @*%&M.

Hmm…imagine a world where the doctor didn’t keep any record. The patient was just responsible for the record. That idea is fraught with trouble and issues, but I bet many doctors would love to not have to worry about the records part of their job.

@medreccom – Medical Records
“Paper is dangerous and inefficient, it doesn’t belong in health care any longer.” Future of #EMR: on.mash.to/uhVkHn

I was interested in this tweet since it linked to an article on Mashable (a mainstream tech site). So, if I get this right, this article and series was sponsored (ie. paid for) by Lenovo and profiles Practice Fusion. In other words, Lenovo paid to advertise Practice Fusion on Mashable. Good for Practice Fusion. Although, I’m not sure how many doctors read Mashable. Maybe the article wasn’t about finding doctors, but was a way to find more tech people to come work at Practice Fusion. The article itself is pretty basic for someone that reads this site. Not a bad play if that was the intent. Full Disclosure: Practice Fusion advertises on this site. Although, they certainly didn’t pay me to write about this and link to it.

Random Thoughts: EMR Projects Decentralized; Problems Persist Despite ‘Solutions’

Posted on August 4, 2011 I Written By

Once in a while, I run out of Big Ideas to share and resort to a rundown of short items. This is one of those times. Often, though, that approach turns out to be more interesting than a well-thought-out commentary. (Thus, the popularity of Twitter, right?)

Speaking of Big Ideas, I’m thinking that the age of the massive EMR project may be coming to an end. You may have seen my piece in InformationWeek today about the reported end of the national EMR in England. London’s The Independent reported earlier this week that the Cameron government will announce next month that it will scrap the national strategy in favor of allowing local hospitals and trusts to make independent EMR purchasing and implementation decisions.

This news comes on the heels of a decision by the government of Ontario to give up on hopes for a single EMR for all of Canada’s most populous province.

On the other hand, here in the States, we’ve seen a lot of consolidation among healthcare providers, but I’m guessing that has more to do with administrative Accountable Care Organizations and the prospect of bundled payments than any desire to build a more unified EMR. Though, consolidation does make health information exchange somewhat easier, and that’s going to be key to earning “meaningful use” dollars beyond 2013.

On a somewhat similar note, doesn’t a headline like, “Positive Outlook for Small Practice EHR Adoption” sound like a no-brainer? I mean, isn’t that the segment of healthcare providers that historically has had the slowest adoption rates? More than anyone else, small practices—particularly small, primary care practices—are the intended target of the federal EHR incentive program. And most of the news from health IT vendors of late has been about how they are going after this long-neglected market, right? The innovation seems to be happening in ambulatory EMRs, as evidenced by DrChrono’s newly certified iPad EHR app, aimed squarely at independent physicians.

That said, vendors and publicists, please do not start inundating me with news about other EHRs getting certified. There are hundreds of certified products out there now, and I cannot and will not write about, oh, about 95 percent of them.

While you’re at it, please stop using the word “solution” as a synonym for “product” or “service.” Tech journalists hate this trite, lazy and, frankly, inaccurate term so much that I’ve been instructed by the editors of InformationWeek not to use it, except in direct quotes. In fact, I get reminded not to use it pretty much every time I’m forwarded a press release laden with news about someone’s “solution.” Solution to what? I’ve been seeing that term since I started covering health IT more than a decade ago, and I still don’t see much getting solved in healthcare. With all the “solutions” out there, you’d think that healthcare had been fixed by now.

I could get a whole lot more curmudgeonly on you, but I think I’ll stop now and await your comments.