Evaluating EMR Vendor Size and Focus

Posted on December 4, 2009 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 wrote previously about the importance of matching your organization’s culture with the EMR vendor’s size. One important aspect, which I deliberately left out, was evaluating the size of the EMR vendor. When selecting an EMR, it’s valuable to understand the size of your EMR vendor and related to its size is its focus.

When talking about size, one aspect to consider is the number of EMR implementations your EMR vendor has in your specialty. Many EMR vendors are trying to be the one universal EMR for all specialties, but the reality is that EMR vendors tend to become very good at certain specialties. You need to ask your EMR vendor questions that will help you understand how many in your specialty are using their EMR. Then, you want to evaluate that against the total number of EMR implementations by that EMR vendor. Also worth considering is an EMR vendor with two EMR implementations in your specialty might still be an enormous organization with hundreds of EMR implementations in other specialties. Other EMR vendors might have a large number of EMR implementations in your specialty, but are still a small company since they only focus on your specialty.

Knowing the EMR implementation ratio for your specialty and true size of the EMR vendor, you need to start finding out where the EMR vendor’s focus lies. Having more EMR implementations in your specialty isn’t always a good thing. This might mean that they’ll stop focusing development of their EMR for your specialty and will focus on expanding their EMR for other specialties. The question you want to ask yourself is how much development and support time will this EMR vendor be putting towards my clinic’s successful use of their EMR. Their focus on your specialty is one measure to consider in this evaluation.

Now how do you evaluate the focus of your EMR vendor? I’ve found moost of them are quite transparent with their direction, goals and ambitions. A quick look at their website will often show you which specialties their EMR is focused on or if they’re trying to serve everyone under the sun. Some EMR vendors have message boards or blogs where you can interact with users of that EMR system. These users will often know where the EMR vendors focus lies. Trusted outside consultants for that EMR software can be another source of learning about the EMR vendor’s direction. Another option is to look at the latest changes to the EMR software in what most people call the “release notes.” A look at the latest addition to the EMR can often reveal an EMR vendor’s focus.

Are there other ways people can think of to evaluate an EMR vendor’s focus and size? Do other people have experiences with EMR vendor who were or weren’t focused on their specialty?