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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 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?

A Medical Software Billing Company Story

Posted on May 31, 2012 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the 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 and John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

I did a post on EMR and EHR called Medical Billing Software Lost in the EHR Mix and then cross posted it to a group on LinkedIn. In that group, I got the following story from Daniel McDonald who works at a practice management software vendor. The response was so interesting I had to share it with more people:

We have been a PM vendor for more than 20 years and we made the decision to not pursue our own EMR as we are a small company with very close ties to our customers. My partner even supported them prior to our 20 years. Some have been with her for 27 years.

We built both an API process and a HL7 process to do the necessary information exchange and pull back the charge and diagnosis data to our PM software. Originally we were under the assumptio this process was supposed to be all about the ability to share data with physcians as well as others involved in patient care.

Unfortunately we have customers who were never told by the EMR vendor they had the ability to share the needed data because it would limit the salespersons commision even though this would limit the disruption in the office and limit larger than needed expenditures on software, training and conversions. The large companies only cared about their stock prices and not about making the process of the implementation quicker, easier by keeping one big part the offices were comfortable with and knew so well. The PM software ultimately affected the entire office and is making the transitions a nightmare. We even have groups paying us to host their data in the event they pull the plug.

We have an office with an attorney fighting the fact the office asked about an interface and the vendor said it was all or nothing. A week later at a luncheon the office manager found out all of the other doctors that bought that package were continuing to use their original PM and were not changing.

So far all this has done is made the fat pockets fatter, disrupted the office, and is pushing the smaller PM vendors customers they have had for 27 years. For the last two years we have not been able to focus solrly on our PM. We found several economical solutions we interface with to meet MU but several customers have been scarred by verbage used by the fat cats in their sales presentations and tactics.

Everyone of our customers were happy and got their calls returned promptly and on the same day. We also have a medical billing company so our software customers would call us with their questions about billing, credentialing and what affects getting a CT or MRI might require or how to bill a code they had never billed before. Now they call an 800 number and they get someone who is hard to understand only to be told they will be placed in the queue and that initial call is not always even on the same day. We know our product like the back of our hands as we developed our own in 1994 so not only do they get a prompt call, they get an answer.

As best I can tell, the comment is about the ProvidrSoft practice management software. I’ve seen some of the practices that Daniel mentions in his above comment. I’m not sure it’s just the big EHR vendors that are telling them that they need an integrated EHR and PM. That message has gotten out far and wide.

As I read the comment above, in the back of my mind I could see a hundred other practice management software companies in my head who could probably share a similar story. I’m not sure how this is all going to play out, but I know that many doctors love their practice management software. They’ve been through many battles together and they won’t leave it behind on the battlefield.