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50 EMR Markets Instead of 1 EMR Market

Posted on March 22, 2010 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.

John Moore at Chilmark Research said, “So Many EHRs, So Little Time: Simply amazing that this market can support so many EMR/EHR companies. How they all survive or will survive is a mystery to me and rationalization will occur. ”

It really is pretty stunning that 300+ EMR vendors are still trying to carve their niche in the EMR market. That’s a lot of friendly (or not so much) competition.

However, I can’t help but sit back and wonder if we’re looking at this the wrong way. Maybe there’s not actually 1 EMR market out there. Maybe there are actually 50 EMR markets.

The case for 50 EMR markets is simple. There is an EMR market for every specialty. Add in regional differences, countries, and I think you could get close to 50 markets. However, the number of markets doesn’t really matter. What matters is that there’s more than 1 EMR market.

Almost every EMR vendor I’ve seen has had the challenge of deciding how they want to market their EMR software. It’s not an easy choice, but more and more we’re seeing EMR vendors focus on specific markets. I think that they’ve found that they can’t be all things to all doctors. Doctors in different specialties are unique and that by focusing on a certain specialty they can provide a real value added service to the doctors in that specialty.

Assuming there’s 50 EMR markets, that means that there’s only 6 EMR vendors per market. That’s a much more reasonable number to consider.

Now there’s no doubt that EMR vendors are working in more than one EMR market. Some of the larger EMR vendors are doing a great job focusing on a number of specialties. So, maybe it’s 10-20 real players in each specialty market. Still too many, but we’ll definitely see a lot of consolidation in this regard.

In fact, I’m a little surprised that we haven’t seen more EMR vendors purchasing up these specialty specific EMR vendors and having them work as kind of subsidiaries of the other company. Then, the large company can provide a variety of very targeted EHR products. The key for that company would be to build amazing interfaces between the various EHR products you own. Show true EHR interoperability between these products and you can sell them as a great package to even the larger hospital owned ambulatory practices. Could be a really interesting play for an EMR vendor I think.

Now, I’m sure that someone will say in the comments that one EMR vendor can serve all 50 markets. They can just build “modules” (or some other similar term) that customizes the EMR to meet the needs of that specialty. The problem is that the “modules” are always limited and lacking. Focusing a “module” of an EMR on a specialty and focusing an EMR on a specialty ends up with very different results.

EMR Core Versus Specialty Functionality

Posted on March 17, 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.

The other day I was thinking about the way EMR software has been designed. A common complaint by specialists is that a certain EMR was designed for General Medicine, but would not work for [insert specialty here]. Then, I asked myself the question “Why hasn’t an EMR vendor built a core with plugins so that other divisions of their company could focus on specialties?”

Yes, if you are a doctor you can probably stop reading right here.

Anyone who’s participated in a website content management system like WordPress (which I use to run this blog) is familiar with the idea of WordPress being the core and then plugins adding extra functionality that might be specific to a user. I wonder why no EMR vendor has decided to develop their software with this same type of flexibility. I believe this process could even work for a private company. It could have one department in charge of the core EMR functionality. Then, other divisions of the company could focus on creating various “plugins” that would expand the core functionality to meet different needs.

This could be the perfect way to be able to adapt the core EMR functions to meet the needs of various specialty clinics out there. This could even be a good way for an EMR company to adapt a product for different state regulations and requirements.

Of course, this model works even better when we’re talking about open source EMR (see also the open source EMR list on the EMR wiki). I’ve seen some different open source EMR, but I don’t personally know of any that are using this model. I’m guessing there has to be and I just don’t know about it. If anyone knows of an open source EMR that is using this model for development, please let me know in the comments. I’d also love to have someone do a guest blog post about this if it is occurring already.

Just some food for thought. Any EMR companies developing this way and I just don’t know about it? I’d love to hear about it as well.