Will EMR Vendors Cut Through The Noise This Year?

Posted on February 25, 2011 I Written By

Katherine Rourke is a healthcare journalist who has written about the industry for 30 years. Her work has appeared in all of the leading healthcare industry publications, and she's served as editor in chief of several healthcare B2B sites.

Folks,  as an editor covering this industry I’ve read more EMR vendor news, pored over more of their press releases and taken in more their advertising pitches than most.   Despite that, I’ve seldom walked away with a clear sense of why that vendor was truly special.

While that’s never a good thing for any vendor, it’s a particularly bad problem in 2011, which, I predict, will make or break many smaller EMR developers.  If it was hard to get buyers’ attention over the last two years — especially that of fearful physicians — it’s going to be a Herculean challenge this year.  The noise level is higher than a pack of screaming fans at a Metallica concert.

I’m not suggesting that EMRs have become a commodity like John suggested was a possibility (the real problem is how diverse they are, in fact!) but I am saying that many are still doing a terrible job of setting themselves apart.  Too much of the content churned out by EMR vendors makes appallingly broad generalizations or strings together a list of “me-too” features.

I do sympathize, tremendously, with the struggle health IT marketers go through in trying to sell such a complex product in a way which clearly communicates:

*  Affordability
*  Easy maintenance
*  Easy-to-establish productivity
*  Reliability

and in the case of selling to larger entities like hospitals:

*  Interoperability
*  Data integrity
*  Intelligently designed infrastructure
*  Scalability
*  And much, much more!

Still, there’s no getting around the fact that they’ve got to get the job done.  This year, if an EMR vendor seems like a me-too, they’ll be history in 18 months, tops.   Like it or not, the time has come to put up (a clear message) or shut up.