Hospital EMR Vendor Consolidating, But Physician EMR Market Still Dynamic

Posted on March 6, 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 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.

If you don’t check out the HIMSS group on LinkedIn from time to time, you should. I always pick up something to think about when I visit, and this time was no exception.

A group of IT pros, most of whom seemed to have plenty of institutional memory of EMRs gone by, were talking about whether the current leaders of the EMR vendor pack would take over and most of the rest fall away.  The consensus, not surprisingly, was that hospital CEOs are herd animals, and that a few leaders are likely to take most of the market.

As things stand today, even EMRs that seem to be a better fit usually lose to the Epics, Cerners and Meditechs of the world, writes Richard Rauber, FHIMSS.

“Let’s say the preferred EMR has 10 clients similar to their facility, and the second choice has 75 clients in the same bed range with a high level of user satisfaction. Is the risk/reward ratio low enough to go with the smaller vendor? It today’s market it would be unlikely.”

If these posters are right, the hospital market is going to standardize on a dozen or so of the most successful vendors. Unfortunately, that’s likely to lead to some really nasty implementations, suggests Terry Montgomery, PMP: “I had such a project last year. They had to move the go live date three times and there were still bugs they had to fix.”

That being said, I think there will be a lot more dancing when it comes to the physician EMR market.  You’ve got breakout models like the no-cost Practice Fusion — and its bundle of VC cash to fuel the fire — iPad-based DrChrono, Free Mitochon PMS-EHR-HIE and a growing number of elegant, doctor-crafted implementations like SOAPware and Amazing Charts.

While the dynamic of hospital IT purchasing is to standardize on the big boys (the old “nobody gets fired for buying IBM” syndrome), physicians can’t afford to buy a system just because the practice across town thought it was cool. Not that such doesn’t happen, but it’s less likely.

I predict that doctors will have some great options to choose from when they hit HIMSS13 next year, systems integrated intelligently with revenue cycle needs but also cleanly designed and physician friendly.

The smaller EMR companies focused on doctors are just doing a better job of mirroring a doctor’s process, there no doubt in my mind. If only such logic would float upward to the billion-dollar boys behind the hospital giants.

Full Disclosure: Practice Fusion, Mitochon, SOAPware and Amazing Charts are advertisers on this blog.