EHRs: Consider these programs if you're strapped for cash

June 13, 2008

A new study from the AC Group identifies seven EHR vendors that give you the most digital bang for your buck.

A new study from the AC Group identifies seven EHR vendors that give you themost digital bang for your buck.

The AC Group, which researches healthcare IT, included a list of companies with low-cost EHRs in a May report titled “Digital Medical Office of the Future Survey.” From top to bottom in terms of EHR functionality, these vendors are Health Communication Systems (HSC), eClinicalWorks, InteGreat, Infor-Med (Praxis), Spring Medical Systems, AmazingCharts.com, and Holt Systems. AC Group President Mark Anderson says that with the exception of eClinicalWorks, the vendors on this list charge under $5,000 per doctor over three years for software, training, and support. eClinicalWorks is pricier at roughly $20,000 for a soloist. Hardware beefs up the bill.

Of the seven vendors, only eClinicalWorks has products certified by the Certification Commission for Healthcare Information Technology as having the ability to perform such basic functions as transmitting a prescription to a pharmacy or importing test results from a lab. However, 76 percent of practices of one to five doctors don’t consider certification essential when they shop for a program, according to a recent study by KLAS Enterprises, another firm that studies healthcare IT.

Besides that, many doctors in small practices can’t afford programs bearing the CCHIT stamp of approval. Anderson says software, training, and support costs for certified programs generally range from $35,000 to $50,000 per doctor over three years. Accordingly, doctors turn to a less expensive and less robust system, sometimes dubbed an “EHR Lite.”

eClinicalWorks also tops the AC Group ranking of vendors with combination EHR/practice-management programs for practices of one and two doctors when scores are calculated for software functionality and overall company strength, which includes financial viability and customer satisfaction. Likewise, eClinicalWorks places second in vendor rankings for practices of three to nine doctors, 10 to 19, and 20 to 99 (in all three rankings, NextGen is number one). Most of the vendors in these EHR/practice-management rankings have certified products.