In my post called The Current Health IT & EHR Bubble a good conversation was started about the way EHR companies are funded and how many of them are at risk of running out of money. Obviously, this should be a concern to anyone selecting an EHR software. Once an EHR company runs out of money, it’s almost never pretty for their users. The EHR software is usually sold to a larger EHR vendor or other EHR competitor and you can imagine which EHR that vendor chooses to sunset.
Here’s a look at how I define the various funding for EHR companies and the risks associated with each EHR funding situation: Seed Funded, Well Funded, Positive Cash Flow, Large EHR Company, and Large Company Backed EHR. I’m sure some of these categories could be divided other ways too. Plus, some EHR companies fall into the middle of 2 categories. However, hopefully you can use these categories to get an idea of how the EHR software you have or are looking at getting is positioned as far as EHR funding.
Over the next couple weeks, I’ll take each category (Seed Funded, Well Funded, Positive Cash Flow, Large EHR Company, and Large Company Backed EHR) and discuss how I define each category and some of the characteristics and risks associated with each type of EHR vendor. First up is Seed Funded EHR companies.
Seed Funded EHR Companies
This is the relatively new EHR company. In most cases, these EHR companies have a very small set of basically beta EHR users. Most people see these companies as the most risky and that’s probably true. Small funding and small user base means you have less revenue and less cash in the bank. However, most of these companies also have smaller staff and burn through money much slower than large companies.
The question with seed funded companies is can they get to either the next round of funding (the more likely option) or enough users before they run out of money. This is often a hard question to answer. In the current EHR investment market, it seems most EHR companies in this stage have gone and gotten the next round of EHR funding while the funding market is good.
Some physicians love these companies. As one of their beta users, your feedback is heard and incorporated into the product. Plus, it’s exciting for many of us to see something build out over time. This is particularly true when the small EHR software company is doing something innovative and unique. The good part for the EHR market is that if a company like this runs out of money, only a few practices are affected. Plus, those practices that are affected usually knew what they were getting into when they chose the small EHR company.
If a seed funded EHR company is able to build a user base with just their seed funding combined with some good boot strapping, a number of them will be able to kick and scratch their way to profitability with a much smaller group of customers. Although, once they do that, they move from this category into the Cash Flow Positive category of EHR companies