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Dumb Question 101: What’s Workflow Doing in an EHR?

Posted on March 29, 2016 I Written By

When Carl Bergman isn't rooting for the Washington Nationals or searching for a Steeler bar, he’s Managing Partner of EHRSelector.com, a free service for matching users and EHRs. For the last dozen years, he’s concentrated on EHR consulting and writing. He spent the 80s and 90s as an itinerant project manger doing his small part for the dot com bubble. Prior to that, Bergman served a ten year stretch in the District of Columbia government as a policy and fiscal analyst.

This was going to be a five year relook at Practice Fusion. Back then, I’d written a critical review saying I wouldn’t be a PF consultant. Going over PF now, I found it greatly changed. For example, I criticized it not having a shared task list. Now, it does. Starting to trace other functions, a question suddenly hit me. Why did I think an EHR should have a shared task list or any other workflow function for that matter?

It’s a given that an EHR is supposed to record and retrieve a patient’s medical data. Indeed, if you search for the definition of an EHR, you’ll find just that. For example, Wikipedia defines it this way:

An electronic health record (EHR), or electronic medical record (EMR), refers to the systematized collection of patient and population electronically-stored health information in a digital format.[1] These records can be shared across different health care settings. Records are shared through network-connected, enterprise-wide information systems or other information networks and exchanges. EHRs may include a range of data, including demographics, medical history, medication and allergies, immunization status, laboratory test results, radiology images, vital signs, personal statistics like age and weight, and billing information.[2]

Other definitions, such as HIMSS are similar, but add another critical element, workflow:

The EHR automates and streamlines the clinician’s workflow.

Is this a good or even desirable thing? Now, before Chuck Webster shoots out my porch lights, that doesn’t mean I’m anti workflow. However, I do ask what are workflow features doing in an EHR?

In EHRs early days, vendors realized they couldn’t drop one in a practice like a fax machine. EHRs were disruptive and not always in a good way. They often didn’t play well with practice management systems or the hodgepodge of forms, charts and lists they were replacing.

As a result, vendors started doing the workflow archeology and devising new ones as part of their installs. Over time, EHRs vendors started touting how they could reform not just replace an old system.

Hospitals were a little different. Most had IT staff that could shoehorn a new system into their environment. However, as troubled hospital EHR rollouts attest, they rarely anticipated the changes that EHRs would bring about.

Adding workflow functions to an EHR may have caused what my late brother called a “far away” result. That is, the farther away you were from something, the better it looked. With EHR workflow tools, the closer you get to their use, the more problems you may find.

EHRs are designed for end users. Adding workflow tools to these assumes that the users understand workflow dynamics and can use them accordingly. Sometimes this works well, but just as often the functions may not be as versatile as the situation warrants. Just ask the resident who can’t find the option they really need.

I think the answer to EHR workflow functions is this. They can be nice to have, like a car’s backup camera. However, having one doesn’t make you a good driver. Having workflow functions shouldn’t fool you into thinking that’s all workflow requires.

The only way to determine what’s needed is by doing a thorough, requirements analysis, working closely with users and developing the necessary workflow systems.

A better approach would be a workflow system that embeds its features in an EHR. That way, the EHR could fit more seamlessly its environment, rather than the other way around.

Practice Fusion Cuts 25% of Staff

Posted on February 4, 2016 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.

Following on our post a few weeks ago about the potential Practice Fusion IPO, news just came out that EHR vendor, Practice Fusion, has now cut its staff by 25%. The Techcrunch report says that the cuts were across the board and affected roughly 74 people. Many are suggesting that the two reports are related since cutting staff is a great way to improve your profit numbers before an anticipated IPO.

While I think the IPO could be in mind, I think there are likely some other trends at play too. While Techcrunch notes that it’s a down market for many IT companies, I think it’s fair to say that many EHR vendors have felt the pinch of late. I wrote a year or so ago that the golden era of government incentivized EHR sales was over and we’re entering a much different market. So, it shouldn’t be a surprise that an EHR vendor might go through some cuts as the false market created by meaningful use disappears. I won’t be surprised to see more layoffs from other EHR vendors. Especially ambulatory EHR vendors like Practice Fusion.

No doubt another factor at play is that Tom Langan replaced Ryan Howard as CEO back in August. It’s very common for a new CEO to go through a round of layoffs after taking over a business. Doing so is hard for the previous CEO who’s so connected to the staff. Not that layoffs are ever easy, but it’s much easier for a new CEO to layoff people in order to make the organization more efficient. That’s particularly true when the previous CEO was the original CEO and Founder of the company.

The cynical observer could also argue that Practice Fusion needed to do these layoffs in order to slow their burn rate since they aren’t in a position to raise more capital. You’d think the $150 million they already raised would give them plenty of run way. However, you’d be surprised how quickly that disappears with that many staff on payroll (Not to mention rents in San Francisco). I personally don’t think this is a case of Practice Fusion cutting staff because they can’t go and raise money. However, it could be Practice Fusion cutting its burn rate so that they have some flexibility on when they go public without having to raise more money.

All of this said, 74 people lost their jobs at an EHR vendor. That’s never fun for anyone involved. At least they’ll likely have plenty of job opportunities in silicon valley. Unless that bubble pops like some are suggesting. It will be interesting to see how many now former Practice Fusion employees search for another job in health care IT.

Is Practice Fusion Heading for an IPO?

Posted on January 21, 2016 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.

The New York Times recently reported that Practice Fusion is said to have hired JP Morgan Chase to evaluate an IPO. Here’s a look at the estimated IPO number for Practice Fusion according to the New York Times:

Practice Fusion later created a way to estimate its I.P.O. valuation if revenue came in at $155 million in 2018 instead of $181 million, according to one of the people. Using the lower revenue assumption, the company could command a valuation of $1.1 billion to $1.2 billion if it goes public. It is unclear if the lower revenue estimate was made in response to the market turmoil.

Practice Fusion itself is of course not really commenting on their plans for an IPO or not. However, since it has raised $149 million to date at a valuation of $635 million, you have to imagine that an IPO is in their future. However, many big silicon valley companies have stuck to the private market lately and avoided the IPO. I’m not sure Practice Fusion will be in a similar position to them though. A look at their revenue numbers is one indication of why they’re a bit different than other companies that have raised larger rounds in the private markets:

Practice Fusion’s revenue was $26.9 million in 2014 and was expected to increase by 71 percent to $46.1 million in 2015, with the company projecting it would pare losses by 40 percent to $25.8 million in 2015, according to the document prepared by bankers and the company.

At the time the document was prepared, the company estimated revenue would hit $70 million in 2016.

I personally think that an IPO is in Practice Fusion’s future. It’s just a question of when it will happen. Certainly the market volatility we’ve seen lately isn’t helping their case to do an IPO. However, I bet the bigger challenge is going to be creating attractive revenue numbers that make sense to the public markets. I believe public markets have a hard time valuing number of users and other metrics that make Practice Fusion look attractive.

Ever since the first venture capitalists asked me about Practice Fusion, I’ve said that the company has created value. The number of doctors they were able to sign up on their platform was impressive. That’s the power of offering something for free that other doctors pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to buy. No doubt their network of physician users is a valuable asset. I hope it is since they raised $149 million to build it.

The real question for me around Practice Fusion isn’t whether they created value. Instead, the question is how valuable is what they created? I once heard Peter Thiel suggest at their user conference that Practice Fusion was building the platform for healthcare. Building that would be worth multiple billions of dollars. However, Practice Fusion hasn’t built anything close to that since Practice Fusion is doing nothing in the hospital EHR space. It’s naive to think that Practice Fusion could compete in that piece of healthcare. Not to mention they have a very small part of the hospital owned ambulatory practice space where the trend is to go with the integrated hospital EHR solution.

Long story short, I think that Practice Fusion will do an IPO. I could even see them doing an IPO for a billion dollars. I’m sure that’s what Ryan Howard, Practice Fusion Founder and former CEO, wants so he can claim his startup unicorn status. Although, I’ll be interested to see how Practice Fusion’s revenue grows between now and an IPO. The golden age of EHR is over and we’re entering the dirty slog of EHR sales and EHR switching. I don’t think that makes for a compelling story for investors.

Practice Fusion’s Free Chromebook Comes at a High Price

Posted on February 4, 2014 I Written By

When Carl Bergman isn't rooting for the Washington Nationals or searching for a Steeler bar, he’s Managing Partner of EHRSelector.com, a free service for matching users and EHRs. For the last dozen years, he’s concentrated on EHR consulting and writing. He spent the 80s and 90s as an itinerant project manger doing his small part for the dot com bubble. Prior to that, Bergman served a ten year stretch in the District of Columbia government as a policy and fiscal analyst.

Update (4/2/14): I just got word that Practice Fusion has updated their terms page and removed the negativity clause.

Practice Fusion’s offering a free Google Chromebook to docs who sign up for its free, web EHR. It’s one thing to give’em the razor and charge for the blades, but this offering goes that one better, you get both, gratis. Or so it seems, but there is a catch you should know about before you click in.

The Deal

The heart of the offer is a free Google Chromebook worth about $300. Chromebooks are hardware platforms for Chrome’s browser, which acts as its operating system. They come in two screen sizes, eleven and fourteen inch and are made by several different vendors, such as HP and Toshiba. Google also provides 100 gigs of on line storage for two years.

Cromebooks have lightweight magnesium cases, a 1366 x 768 screen, 2 USBs, webcam, 2 gigs of RAM and a 16 gig solid state drive. They are WiFi only devices with Bluetooth. PF does not specify which vendor’s unit or screen size that it offers, though it refers to HP’s as an example. As a side note, John has the HP Chromebook and loves it and especially the 10-12 hours of battery life.

The Offer

To qualify, PF requires that you meet these standards:

  • License. Be a licensed US healthcare provider at least 18 years old. (Sorry, Doogie)
  • Status. Be a US Citizen or permanent legal resident
  • New User. Not been a PF user before
  • Account. Successfully signed up for a PF account
  • Rx User. Become one of their e-Prescribing users
  • Survey. Participate in a PF survey of eligible users
  • Agreement. Agree to their terms and conditions for the program.

As you would expect, PF puts in several clauses to protect itself and to comply with privacy and similar considerations. Oddly, I could not figure out what happens to the Chromebook if you quit PF or if they end the program.

The Gag Rule

So far, so good, but there’s a gotcha in Section 5d of the offer’s terms and conditions, which says:

Negativity. You will not disparage Practice Fusion, Inc., our Services, the Program, products, employees, partners, affiliates, contractors, or portray them in a negative or derogatory manner.

I don’t know what prompted PF to put this in. There’s nothing new in the PF technology or using a Chromebook to access it. It’s understandable that PF wants to make sure it’s getting new subscribers who are doctors, but this language is not related to the offer. It’s not part of PF’s standard agreement, which has nothing like this clause.

It’s easy to come up with questions about the language. Here are a few:

  • Scope. Just who isn’t included in this rule? It applies not only to PF and its employees, but also in this case to Google or HP, etc., including their contractors without limit.
  • Disparage. What do they mean by disparage, they don’t say. Commonly, it means to belittle or demean. So, if I say to a friend that my Chromebook’s OK, but it’s no MacPro, is that a violation? What if I post a problem on PF’s Community Support forum that’s an impediment to my work, am I liable under this section?
  • Negative or Derogatory Manner. I guess this means if you are going to say something less than flattering, you’ll have to damn with fait praise. For example, “Considering how short staffed they are, it’s amazing their backlog isn’t worse.”
  • Reviews. If I’m a doc who writes a review of PF under this program, am I barred from pointing out problems? Do they have a right to sue me for violation of the terms, if they think I said something negative?
  • Legal Recourse. If I file a complaint with a consumer protection agency, the FTC, FDA, etc., does this section open me to legal action?

All these are problematic, but the greatest problem with this clause, and similar ones that other vendors impose, is not what it does to their users. It’s what it does to the vendor and its products. These gag rules, which are intended to insulate the vendor from hostile comments, etc., also isolates them from important feedback.

As I’ve noted elsewhere about the gag rules some vendors include:

Agreements. Your company lawyer did a great job of protecting you from being sued. Are you so protected, though, that your client can’t talk about problems? Client complaints may be on target or way off, but if they are afraid to tell you or discuss it with anyone, how will you know?

With Section 5d’s language, PF thinks it’s shielding itself from adverse attacks, but it’s really blinding itself to legitimate criticism and suggestions for improvement.

There is also one other factor. PF has put this language in a program aimed at practicing physicians. Shouldn’t these doctors be considered partners in their efforts to make a quality EHR? Why would Practice Fusion not want both positive and negative feedback from these core users?

Maybe this was just missed by the Practice Fusion team and wasn’t their intent. It’s not hard in these situations for a legal team to add something that’s not the intent of the company and is missed in the terms review by the company. Balancing the legal is hard, but PF ought to trim this language way back or just toss it.

Health IT Venture Funding For EMRs At Low Ebb

Posted on January 17, 2014 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.

For several years, most health IT venture funding has focused either on EMRs or data and network infrastructure to support EMRs.  With the EMR market arguably completely saturated, it seems the money is flowing in a different direction.

According to a new report by Mercom Capital Group covered in iHealthBeat, health IT venture capital funding hit  $2.2 billion across 571 deals in 2013, nearly double the $1.2 billion and 163 deals executed in 2012.

So where did the money go? According to Mercom, consumer-centric health IT companies raised $1.1 billion, personal health companies raised $198 million and social health companies raised $166 million last year.  The mobile healthcare sector raised almost $564 million, not surprising at all given the speed at which mobile health is accelerating.

Meanwhile, roughly $1.1 billion was raised by medical practice centric companies, including $179 million by population health companies, $162 million but practice management companies and a scant $166 million by EMR companies.

According to the report the top five venture funded companies of 2013 were Evolent Health, which raised $100 million, Practice Fusion, which raised $85 million, Fitbit, which raised $73 million, MedSynergies, which raised $65 million, and Proteus Digital Health, which raised $45 million.

So, as it turns out, Practice Fusion took the lion’s share of EMR venture funding last year, leaving the rest of the industry to scavenge for what remained in terms of VC interest.

What does it say in terms of the health of the EMR business?  Well, it’s not necessarily a sign of anything terribly negative in terms of EMR vendors’ future; after all, you’re not seeing a lot of new EMR companies jumping into the business, for good reason.

On the other hand, it does suggest that the market for EMRs has solidified, and is not perceived to have dramatic growth potential by VCs.  I suppose we shouldn’t be surprised or concerned for that matter. If EMR vendors aren’t in explosive growth mode at this point, it’s just because they’re serving the customers they’ve got. It could be worse.

Will We See More Free EMRs?

Posted on September 24, 2013 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.

Wondering what’s up in the free EMR world? In a recent article in the redoubtable KevinMD.com, an author described three current EMRs which are free to physician users:

* Hello Health, which collects fees from patients ranging from $36-$120 per year but charges no fees to physicians. (Patients who pay for Hello Health get various privileges, including online appointment scheduling with blocked out periods of time reserved for Hello Health patients, the article reports.)

* Kareo, which gives away its EMR in hopes that medical offices will buy its other products, including practice management and billing services.

* Practice Fusion, whose business model allows physicians to use its EMR for free in exchange for tolerating ads on screen.

To me, what’s interesting about these models is that there are so few of them. When Practice Fusion first emerged years ago I assumed that there would be tons of other free EMR plays emerging to compete with it. That has not been the case.

To me, this fits in with John’s observation that the Golden Age of EMR Adoption is over, or as he puts it, that “we’re now getting ready to enter the nasty, ugly, dirty, swamp – filled waters of EMR adoption.”

Five years ago or so, free EMRs were just one of the neat new EMR business models emerging as vendors went after Meaningful Use money. Fast forward, to today, and you find that things have gotten a lot simpler and clearer. While early players like Practice Fusion may have seen good adoption of their free EMR, I don’t think they’re going to have much competition for that business model in the future. The market just isn’t as open to new ideas as it was.

While there may be other viable free EMRs not mentioned in the blog item, I think the industry has concluded that at best, pay-for-play EMRs are more viable over the long run than most free EMR models floating around the vendorsphere. Although, Practice Fusion’s new $70 million round of funding will keep them in the game for a while to come. What do you think?

Practice Fusion Announces 3 Billing Partners

Posted on May 29, 2013 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.

With the news of Mitochon shutting down their Free EHR business, that really only leaves a couple players left in the Free EHR space. The largest one is Practice Fusion, but it has challenges of its own. You might remember the announcement that Kareo bought the Epocrates EHR and is offering the EHR for free.

You could tell that Practice Fusion was put in a bad position when Kareo decided to basically part ways and offer a competitive product to Practice Fusion. Although, no doubt Practice Fusion and Kareo both knew it was going to happen sooner or later. The key question was how Practice Fusion was going to respond to the move by Kareo since Practice Fusion was sorely lacking in the billing department.

Well, the answer is now in. Practice Fusion just announced 3 preferred billing partners: NueMD, CollaborateMD and ADP AdvancedMD. You can see NueMD’s press release about the partnership here. Both NueMD and CollaborateMD are offering their billing solution starting at $149/month. ADP AdvancedMD offers “customized pricing” which means they don’t want to commit to a price and likely change the price based on the size of the practice.

The Practice Fusion announcement I got did say that these integrations will happen “later this summer.”

It’s an interesting choice on Practice Fusion’s part to continue down the integration road versus developing their own billing software or just buying one of the billing software that’s out there. I wonder if this is going to pose a long term problem for them. I wonder if Practice Fusion learned from the Kareo experience and the contracts with NueMD, CollaborateMD, and ADP AdvancedMD take this into account.

No doubt Practice Fusion comes at the EHR world with a different business model in mind, but it could be a mistake for them to not also have a hand in the purse strings (billing). Sure, they’ll get some short term financial bump from these three partnerships, but are they trading revenue for long term connections with the doctors?

simplifyMD New “Free” Patient Room Cartoon

Posted on April 24, 2013 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.

A while back simplifyMD sent me a link to their EHR cartoon gallery. I’ll admit that I was a little underwhelmed with their first set of cartoons. They looked professional, but the content and writing needed some help. I happened upon the gallery again today and found a new cartoon called, ‘Easy Street Family Practice installs a “Free” patient room.’ Check it out (click on the image to see it full size):
simplifyMD Ad Supported Patient Rooms

I thought this was a hilarious jab at our societal move to “Free” everything. It’s a bit of an exaggeration of what it’s really like to get something for free in return for time spent seeing ads. This is especially true of Free EHR where the ads are as unobtrusive as any ads I’ve seen on anything. However, it does illustrate the reason why many people aren’t comfortable with the Free EHR model.

I did have one user of the Practice Fusion Free EHR recently tell me that if the EHR weren’t free, there’s no way they’d still be using that EHR. I thought it provided an interesting perspective on the value of free. We’ll see how this plays out long term for Practice Fusion and if these type of experiences taint the Free EHR market for everyone else.

Plus, I couldn’t write about Free EHR without mentioning that just because an EHR doesn’t cost money doesn’t mean that there aren’t other costs. Some people are ok with the Free EHR costs of advertising and data. Others are not. The key is to be aware of the hidden costs of using a Free EHR.

Going back to the cartoon, I think I might prefer some in exam room advertising if it would replace my co-pay. I’d be fine with a nice Pepsi ad in the exam room in return for lower healthcare costs. Although like most things in life, it can certainly be taken too far if we’re not careful.

Full Disclosure: simplifyMD is an advertiser on this site.

EMR Vendors Want Meaningful Use Stage 3 Delay

Posted on January 29, 2013 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.

A group of EMR vendors have joined the chorus of industry organizations asking that Meaningful Use Stage 3 deadlines be moved up to a later date.  The vendors also want to see the nature of Stage 3 requirements changed to put a greater emphasis on interoperabilityInformation Week reports.

The group, the HIMSS EHR Association (EHRA), represents 40 vendors pulled together by HIMSS.  Members include both enterprise and physician-oriented vendors, including athenahealth, Cerner, Epic, eClinicalWorks, Emdeon, Meditech, McKesson, Siemens GE Healthcare IT and Practice Fusion.

In comments submitted to HHS, the vendors argue that MU Stage 3 requirements should not kick in until three years after a provider reaches Stage 2, and start no earlier than 2017. But their larger request, and more significant one, is that they’d like to see Meaningful Use Stage 3’s focus changed:

“The EHRA strongly recommends that Stage 3 focus primarily on encouraging and assisting providers to take advantage of the substantial capabilities established in Stage 1 and especially Stage 2, rather than adding new meaningful use requirements and product certification criteria. In particular, we believe that any meaningful use and functionality changes should focus primarily on interoperability and building on accelerated momentum and more extensive use of Stage 2 capabilities and clinical quality measurement.”

So, we’ve finally got vendors like walled-garden-player Epic finding a reason to fight for interoperability. It took being clubbed by the development requirements of Stage 3, which seems to have EHRA members worried, but it happened nonetheless.

While there’s obviously self-interest in vendors asking not to strain their resources on new development, they still have a point which deserves considering.  Does it really make sense to push the development curve as far as Stage 3 requires before providers have gotten the chance to leverage what they’ve got?  Maybe not.

Now, the question is whether the vendors will put their code where their mouth is. Will the highly proprietary approach taken by Epic and some of its peers become passe?

AAFP EMR Survey Offers Food For Thought

Posted on December 24, 2012 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.

Even the authors admit that the following study has got flaws, given that respondents weren’t randomly selected and some vendors screened out by its design.  Nonetheless, new EMR satisfaction research by the American Academy of Family Practice gives us some interesting stats to consider.

The study, which was published in the November/December issue of its Family Practice Management  journal, draws on 3,088 responses from AAFP members, who responded to a series of questions regarding which EMRs they used and how comfortable they were with those EMRs.  Respondents reported using a total of 160 named EMRs, but the study dropped 129 which were used by 12 or fewer practices in an effort to simplify the results, leaving 31 systems for analysis.

The systems with the strongest satisfaction ratings, ranging from roughly 80 percent too over 50 percent, were Praxis, HealthConnect, MEDENT, Amazing Charts and SOAPware. eMDs,  Practice Fusion, Point and Click EHR, EpicCare Ambulatory and Vista CPRS followed closely, with scores clustered around 50 percent.

Not too surprisingly, EMRs that were ranked easy to use were largely the same ones which got high satisfaction ratings. Topping that list was Point and Click EHR at nearly 80 percent, followed by Amazing Charts, Practice Fusion, Praxis, SOAPware, Aprima, MEDENT,eMDs, HealthConnect, Vista CPRS, with Care360 EHR rounding out the bottom of the top 10 at roughly 47 percent.

The only surprise the authors highlighted came in response to a question asking which EMRs helped doctors see more patients or go home earlier than they could with paper charts. In that case, Praxis stood out, with doctors who agreed hitting about 80 percent. The number who agreed for the next on the list, SOAPware, fell immediately to just over 40 percent, with the other players falling even lower on the scale.

Even with its deliberate statistical laxity — authors described their intent as being more of an “advice from colleagues” format — this certainly offers some stats to chew on. In particular, I’d love to know what Praxis is doing right. After all, when it comes right down to it, productivity is king.