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In The Trenches: Primary Care Practice Saves With EMR Transition

Posted on September 13, 2016 I Written By

Anne Zieger is veteran healthcare consultant and analyst with 20 years of industry experience. Zieger formerly served as editor-in-chief of FierceHealthcare.com and her commentaries have appeared in dozens of international business publications, including Forbes, Business Week and Information Week. She has also contributed content to hundreds of healthcare and health IT organizations, including several Fortune 500 companies. Contact her at @ziegerhealth on Twitter or visit her site at Zieger Healthcare.

This is the first in an occasional series of stories I’m writing on how medical practices – particularly smaller groups – are handling their health IT challenges. If you have suggestions for future columns please feel free to write to me at anne@ziegerhealthcare.com.

It only took six months for Clem Surak to realize that his current EMR system wasn’t going to cut it. Surak, who bought Wilmington, NC-based primary care practice Health Partners in 2011 with his wife, didn’t originally come from the healthcare business, but he quickly saw that his IT platforms weren’t cost-effective.

The systems he inherited to run the practice, an Allscripts EHR sprawling across three servers and a companion practice management platform called Tiger, were “very proprietary” and tech support wasn’t easy to access. And they cost $20K per year to support two doctors.

Worse, the product wasn’t very current. “Meaningful Use had to be downloaded as a separate module,” said Surak.

Not surprisingly, Surak began looking for other options. After consulting with his local Regional Extension Center, he went with a new system from Amazing Charts (full disclosure: a former client of your editor). The new system, which went live in June 2012, offered some important benefits, including:

* Savings:  It cost Health Partners $5,400/year to license the integrated Amazing Charts EHR, a $14,600 savings over the Allscripts systems.

* Maintenance: Because the new solution is cloud-based, the practice doesn’t need to maintain the software or cope with technical breakdowns directly.

* Rollout: Implemented over the course of three months, with no slowdown or reduction in physician hours needed. “We kept our normal pace,” Surak says.

* Data transfer: To bring patient demographic data over from Allscripts to the new system, all the practice had to do was export Allscripts data into an Excel spreadsheet, then run an Amazing Charts wizard which imported it.

Of course, the practice faced some challenges as well, largely around adjusting workflow and phasing out the old system:

* Running in parallel:  For the first few years after the transition to Amazing Charts, Health Partners had to keep the Allscripts system running alongside the new system.

* Practice management lag:  Amazing Charts didn’t offer a practice management module at the time Health Partners acquired the EMR. Until mid-2015, when a practice management module became available, it had to keep doing patient scheduling and accounting in the Allscripts system.

Ultimately, despite some transitional hassles, Surak is glad he made the shift to a set of systems that work effectively in tandem. Putting a new EMR and practice management system in place hasn’t just saved money, it’s helped Surak keep efficiency high, running the practice with just a couple of support staffers.

“Most offices this size would have five to seven support staffers, but we don’t have to,” he says. “And keeping overhead down is the key to remaining independent.”

EMR Market Share

Posted on October 6, 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.

One of the most popular questions I get asked (although far behind the Which EMR is Best? question) is what’s the EMR market share look like. The problem is that there really isn’t any great data out there for EMR market share. Plus, the numbers that EMR vendors give out just clouds up the conversation completely.

Here’s an example from an article about Allscripts completed merger with Eclipsys:

“What this merger heralds is the coming together of the health care system,” says Tullman. In other words, Allscripts now provides service to about 180,000 physicians (roughly 30% of all U.S. physicians), more than 1500 American hospitals (about 50% of U.S. hospitals with 200 beds or more) and over 10,000 post acute care facilities (more than 75% of U.S. facilities).

These numbers just make me laugh. The wrong assumption that people make is that when they say they provide services to 180,000 physicians that they mean their providing EMR services. After all, Allscripts has something like 7 different EMR software products, right? Too bad that assumption would be way off base.

I think it’s pretty clear that the Allscripts product that’s most widely used is SureScripts (ePrescribing). Take out the SureScripts users and I wonder how many physicians really use Allscripts products. The number would be DRAMATICALLY lower.

Of course, we could have easily known this if we just looked at the “30% of all U.S. physicians” quote. There aren’t even that many physicians using an EMR (let alone an Allscripts EMR). I’m sure similar things could be said about the hospital numbers listed above.

Yes, these numbers are just the “spin” that is so prevalent in marketing and PR. That is their job after all. Hard to complain too much about them doing their job.

One thing is certain. Trying to figure out EMR market share is pretty much impossible. Plus, the ones that are the loudest aren’t always the ones with the most market share. Remember that.

Allscripts EMR Profits

Posted on January 20, 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.

I found this about a week ago and found it really really interesting. Here’s the numbers for the EMR behemoth Allscripts per HIT News:

The company [Allscripts] made $15.8 million in net income for the quarter, turning around a $6 million loss for the same period last year. Non-GAAP net income increased 45 percent, from $16.6 million a year ago to $24 million this year.

The sad part is that Allscripts went through a nice round of layoffs last year. I can’t find the number right now, but I remember it was pretty significant. Too bad they had to fire so many people while turning such a large profit. Seems like an opportunistic cut to me. I wonder how well Allscripts support was with all the cuts.

Another quote from the same article:

“We believe that 2010 will be the ‘Year of the EHR’ in which we expect to see significant acceleration in the adoption and utilization of healthcare information technology to improve quality and reduce cost,” said Glen Tullman, Allscripts CEO. “This is a once-in-a-lifetime market opportunity, driven by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.”

There’s no doubt that Glen Tullman is salivating over the $18 billion of EMR stimulus money that’s on the table. He probably should be since Allscripts is likely to make a killing off of the stimulus money.

I think all of this is also a very good sign for smaller EMR vendors as well. I expect a number of EMR vendors to scale to 500 or so installs and sell off for a very nice return in the next few years. I guess we’ll see if Glen’s right about this being the “Year of the EHR.”

MISYS EMR Users Moving to Allscripts EMR Thanks to ARRA

Posted on October 6, 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.

HISTalk posted the following about Allscripts EMR and MISYS EMR:

From Doofus: “Re: Allscripts. Word on the street that Allscripts is sending a letter to Misys EMR clients stating that they will not make MISYS EMR compliant with ARRA guidelines and that these clients will need to move to the Allscripts family of products. Fees are in the area of $2,500 per provider and a fee per practice. Training and data conversion are not included but are discounted.” A contact there says word on the street is wrong. Since meaningful use hasn’t been defined, Allscripts hasn’t made any statement about the likelihood of MEMR being compliant or what they’ll do (or offer) if it isn’t. Maybe there was some confusion over an ongoing offer to those MEMR customers who would like to upgrade to one of the company’s better products at their convenience.

This sounds like playing on words to me. I attended the Alllscripts tour…errr I mean the EHR stimulus tour. There were many Misys EMR users that told me they pretty much had to move to Allscripts EMR. Maybe it’s not being forced to move. However, when you’re working on EMR software that won’t be updated, that’s pretty much being forced to move in my book.

Evaluations of AllScripts EMR

Posted on August 18, 2009 I Written By

I just ran into a Urologist who purchased an EMR. His group decided to get Allscripts because they knew Urologists who liked it. They also heard that Allscripts had very good support.

I have heard that Allscripts’ EMR is not very user-friendly. Their ePrescribing solution is well liked, but from my reading of the blogs, their EMR is not well liked.

Does anyone use Allscripts EMR? How do you like it?