One-Fifth Of Physician Practices Might Switch EMRs

Posted on February 26, 2013 I Written By

Katherine Rourke 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.

Here’s yet more evidence that this is the year of the “big switch” in EMRs, at least among physicians. A new survey by Black Book Market Research has concluded that about 23 percent of practices with currently implemented EMRs are unhappy enough with their current system to consider switching to a different vendor.

According to a piece in Medical Economics, doctors’ concerns include a lack of interoperability, excessively complicated connectivity and networking and problems with mobile device integration.

The survey, which reached out to 17,000 doctors, found that internal medicine docs had the highest rates of satisfaction (89 percent), followed  by family practice (85 percent), general practice (82 percent) and pediatrics.

The unhappiest specialists were nephrologists (88 percent), followed closely by urologists (85 percent) and ophthalmologists (80 percent).

So if a practice is going to switch vendors, what are they looking for? The Medical Economics piece listed five “must-have” features doctors voted for in the Black Book survey:

* vendor viability

* data integration and network sharing

* adoption of mobile devices

* health information exchange support and connectivity

* perfected interfaces with lab, pharmacy, radiology, medical billing partners, and others

Unfortunately, they won’t find it easy to find all of these features in a single EMR.  Of course, you faithful editor isn’t the be-all and end-all when it comes to EMR products (who could be?) but it seems to me that if even pricier enterprise products seldom offer all of these options, it’s decidedly unlikely that ambulatory products will. (OK, vendor viability is a judgment call, but in a world where so many practices don’t like their EMR, it’s hard to imagine that vendors are at their strongest.)

Folks, the truth is that it looks like we’re coming to a market crash of some kind. Physicians aren’t getting what they need from EMRs, but vendors aren’t keeping up, especially in the realm of specialty EMRs.

As if that wasn’t enough, the threat of fines looms for practices that don’t get their Meaningful Use act together, something they may have trouble doing if they’re in the midst of EMR shopping, installation and adoption.

Time is getting tight, and customers aren’t happy. Ambulatory vendors, what’s your next move?