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12/22/2010
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Epic Keeps Top Spot In Healthcare Software

KLAS' year-end report also cites Siemens, Cerner, and McKesson for making strong improvements in the health IT industry in 2010.

17 Leading EHR Vendors
(click image for larger view)
Slideshow: 17 Leading EHR Vendors
In its end-of-year report, 2010 Top 20 Best in KLAS Awards: Software & Professional Services, health IT (HIT) analyst firm KLAS finds Epic is the top-ranked overall software vendor, with a performance score of 87.0 out of 100, followed by Picis and Philips. The top-rated overall services firm is Hayes Management (90.5), followed by Vitalize Consulting Solutions and CTG.

KLAS president Adam Gale said people keep asking him if Epic can maintain its position at the top of the HIT heap. After reviewing the vendor's last 13 go-lives this year, and finding they aggregate to an "A" score on the KLAS scale, he said there's no reason to think Epic will falter anytime soon.

"To me, it's almost mindboggling that even with their extreme growth they have very happy clients. It's amazing, just in terms of their ability to hire, train, and move new people along," Gale said. "Certainly every site has issues and challenges but, in comparison, it's staggering what they've been able to do -- keeping their Best in KLAS status in core clinicals, core financials, ambulatory. In a lot of the pieces that we measure, they come out as Best in KLAS."

Gale also found the improvement of Siemens' Soarian worthy of note. "For years, it seemed like Soarian just dragged along, like a car that was almost in neutral. The Soarian product itself is much improved from where it was a year ago. The support is better and adoption is up significantly," he said.

Gale notes that the Siemens turnaround started before former Partners HealthCare VP and CIO John Glaser took over the helm in August. But certainly, he said, Glaser joining Siemens has had a positive effect. "The energy among clients has increased because they know the product is now ready, and you combine that with the faith they have in John as a leader at Siemens and it seems like this is the biggest turnaround we have seen of the major vendors this year."

But Siemens, said Gale, wasn't the only vendor to show improvement in 2010. Specifically in the ambulatory space, Cerner has shown new strength. Gale partially attributes the improvement to the vendor hosting its software for clients.

"We found that made a big difference because sites were able to upgrade faster as new code came out. They seem to have a new vibrancy and a new energy around the ambulatory space. I won't say that it's caught up to some of the best-of-breed players, but certainly some of the Cerner customers who are counting on them delivering in this area are feeling much better today than they were 12, 18 months ago."

Finally, Gale cited McKesson's Paragon suite as a big mover in 2010. Interestingly, McKesson now has two major HIT product suites, leaving hospitals in the 300-400 bed range with an interesting choice.

"We see Paragon being a much more formidable player in the market than it has been historically, and that includes larger hospitals that normally would have looked at Horizon (McKesson's other suite) or Allscripts, or someone else. All of a sudden, Paragon may be an option for 300-400 bed hospitals that want an integrated system versus some of the best-of-breed approaches. So that's been a little bit of a surprise to us. We've seen it coming the last few years, but it really seems to have turned a corner this year."

The KLAS end-of-year report includes the annual rankings of the best-performing healthcare IT vendors based on more than 17,000 interviews conducted yearly with healthcare providers. KLAS rankings measure a vendor's performance in areas of product quality, implementation, and service and support. The top-rated companies in key market categories earned the 2010 Best in KLAS distinction, signifying their leadership in meeting customer expectations. The award is reserved for companies in the largest and most impactful market segments.

Anthony Guerra is the founder and editor of healthsystemCIO.com, a site dedicated to serving the strategic information needs of healthcare CIOs. He can be reached at aguerra@healthsystemCIO.com.

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