KLAS: Strong Support Distinguishes Top EMR Vendors

Wth EMR usability still shaky at best, it’s the developers that offer hands-on support that score highest when EMR usability gets rated, according to HIT researcher KLAS Enteprises, reports Modern Healthcare.

KLAS, which just completed its report “Ambulatory EMR Usability 2013, More Nurture than Nature,” spoke with 163 providers, specifically leaders of practices with more than 25 physicians.  In nearly every case, the magazine said, providers’ greatest frustration was related to vendor relationships, not the software itself, KLAS told MH.

As part of its research, KLAS ranked nine vendors on how well “the typical physician” could efficiently and effectively perform six common EMR tasks/functions, including e-prescribing, medication reconciliation, physician documentation, problem lists, viewing patient information  and supporting mobile devices.

Coming out on top was athenahealth, a Web-based vendor, which topped the list for getting providers to usability at first use, and second for having strong handholding relationships with customers.

Epic, which came up second in the overall composite ranking, was number one when respondents asked whether their vendor gave them good support in guiding them to usability.  This was true despite the fact that Epic is also well known for usability complaints by physicians, and that Epic is built on configurable modules that lead to a steep learning curve.

GE Healthcare and Greenway Medical Technologies tied for third in the composite scoring.

Meanwhile, Allscripts’ Enterprise EHR and McKesson Corp.’s Practice Partner got low scores for initial usability, the magazine said. Allscripts got higher grades for getting customers situated over time; 74 percent ranked the vendor good or okay as compared with 54 percent of McKesson customers.

McKesson had the most customers of any vendor in the survey reporting that the company was “not good” at helping users with its technology.

So, we have an interesting conclusion here: even if vendors turn out a difficult-to-use product, strong customer support can largely erase that disadvantage. Now, let’s see what happens when a big vendor turns out a product which is easy to use without a lot of handholding…