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Study finds no leaders in electronic health record systems for small practices


Although a recent study found no leaders in the small-practice market, it did find some good options. See how the systems you're considering fared--and get tips on how to choose.

Despite the hundreds of electronic health record (EHR) systems available, a new study finds no single market leader, although several vendors are positioning themselves to be in the future.

The study, “EHR in the ambulatory practice” by market research firm International Data Corp. (IDC), analyzed 11 commonly used systems developed by nine vendors. The results were determined by combining independent data with vendor and end user interviews.

The study looked at 25 categories, including pricing, innovation, customer service, and approach to meaningful use requirements. Only systems that met basic measures were analyzed. The counterpart to a study last year of EHRs used by midsize-to-large practices, this study looked more closely at ongoing costs and delivery models for practices with 10 or fewer providers, researchers said.

“One of the things we saw in end users we spoke to is that pricing is less important than the value they see from the applications,” IDC Health Insightsresearch director Judy Hanover says. 

None of the systems landed in the top “leaders” quadrant, although eight fell in the second quadrant of “major players.” eClinicalWorks topped the list and had one of the largest market shares, receiving a “plus” in the report for its high relative growth in users and revenues.

“The small practice space…is relatively immature,” Hanover says. “We do see emerging and changing functionality, but most of the vendors are in the under-20% market share.”

Other highly ranked systems included Greenway PrimeSuite and Optum Physician EMR (formerly called CareTracker), with PrimeSuite reporting the greater growth rate of the two. Allscripts Professional EHR, which had one of the largest market shares of the systems analyzed, ranked just below. According to the study, the system has lower relative adoption. Meditech LSS MPM, the lowest-ranked system, was at the bottom of the third quadrant, “contenders.”

In a conference call last week, Hanover offered several suggestions for practices considering purchasing an EHR system:

Consider the financial stability of the vendor.

Pay attention to the product’s functionality and release of new features.

Assess compatibility with mobile devices.

Leverage existing practice management investments in looking for integrated EHRs.

Look for vendors that specialize in small practices for simple, easy-to-use applications and vendors that offer software-as-a-service options that lower infrastructure requirements.

Perhaps most importantly, Hanover says that practices should look past meaningful use when thinking about the needs and goals of an EHR. If not, she warns, practices “will only see the short-term incentives and not the long-term benefits.”

Go back to current issue of eConsult

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