Will Billing Separate EMR Winners From Losers?

Posted on July 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.

The other day, I was speaking with a sales exec from a medical billing company, who commented that his company interfaces with about 200 of the leading EMRs.  His comment got me thinking.

I believe we haven’t thought enough about billing when we consider what will drive consolidation in the EMR market. Whether vendors offer it through offering their own practice management system or an easy-to-work-with infrastructure, billing counts a great deal. And the EMRs that aren’t integrating seamlessly aren’t exactly in the driver’s seat in medical practices.

Vendors aren’t in the easiest position when it comes to being a good billing partner. They can offer a suite with practice management available as an add-on, but doctors may not want the whole thing. They can offer an EMR + PM suite that’s already integrated, but what if the practice doesn’t like one of the two?  Some vendors are partnering with companies that make third-party billing applications, but if the other party were to pull out abruptly that strategy could enrage customers.

Still, vendors that balance these factors right have a powerful advantage. After all, practices WANT to get Meaningful Use dollars, but they NEED to get paid. I know that billing would be one of the first things I’d consider if I was shopping for a medical office EMR.

What I’m really saying here is that while most of us agree that a big EMR firm consolidation is coming, we haven’t talked much about the role of strong billing support in an EMR’s market viability. I think we should. I’d love to know if you’ve seen medical office software that really has a strong billing approach, and what you like about it. Thoughts, anyone?