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1/18/2012
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Epic Tops List of Meaningful Use Early Responders

Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services finds Epic the clear winner among providers rushing to obtain Meaningful Use incentive dollars. But that race has just started.

12 EHR Vendors That Stand Out
12 EHR Vendors That Stand Out
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To date, Epic's electronic health records system takes first place in the race to obtain Meaningful Use incentive dollars. But the score card will likely change radically in the months ahead as a broader cross section of providers attest, stating that they have met the Meaningful Use criteria for incentive payments.

In the data released by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and analyzed by Modern Healthcare magazine, the top-ranked EHR vendor among clinicians who received incentives was Epic Systems. Epic was used by 28% of these eligible professionals (EPs), or 6,045 providers. That was more than the next four vendors combined.

Mark Anderson, a health IT consultant based in Montgomery, Texas, told InformationWeek Healthcare that Epic has the largest installed base of any EHR company. In addition, he pointed out that its customers tend to be large multispecialty groups, so it's not surprising that so many of the early-attesting EPs use Epic.

[Is it time to re-engineer your clinical decision support system? See 10 Innovative Clinical Decision Support Programs.]

The next four vendors, in order of the number of attesting EPs who use their EHR products, are:

-- eClinicalWorks (ECW): 9%, or 1,847 EPs

-- Allscripts: 7%, or 1,449 EPs

-- Athenahealth: 5%, or 1,158 EPs

-- Community Computer Service: 5%, or 999 EPs

While Allscripts claims a bigger customer base than ECW does, Anderson pointed out that the Allscripts Enterprise HER--used by the largest portion of the vendor's clients--required additional modules to be certified for Meaningful Use. In contrast, Allscripts' Professional and MyWay products were ready for Meaningful Use out of the box, he noted.

Athenahealth is a bigger puzzle, since its EHR is only a few years old. Anderson speculated that Athenahealth's process for helping its customers achieve Meaningful Use may have been responsible for its excellent showing.

The vendor utilizes a software-as-a-service (SaaS) model in which all practices use the same version of the software and share a single database, "which makes it easier to monitor and report everything," Anderson said. "Because of their process, it may be easier for them to get their doctors certified."

Community Computer Service (CSS), which makes an EHR called Medent, is not as well-known as the other vendors. The company claims that 12,000 providers use its products, but many have only Medent's practice management system. Even if half of them also use the EHR, though, CSS' early showing in Meaningful Use is impressive.

Two other facts about the ranking stand out. First, major ambulatory-care vendors such as NextGen, GE, and Greenway are absent from the top tier. And second, a large number of vendors split up the remaining 46% of the EPs.

In total, 217 vendors supplied the EHRs used by the 21,697 providers--including hospitals and EPs--who received incentive payments. Of these companies, 60% had ten or fewer installations.

The database includes only EPs who registered for Meaningful Use through Medicare. Although many EPs signed up through Medicaid instead, they didn't have to show Meaningful Use to get payments in the first year. Most of the listed hospitals registered through both Medicare and Medicaid.

The leading hospital vendor was Epic, which was used by 26%, or 165, of the 627 hospitals that received payments. Epic was followed, in order, by CPSI (22%), Cerner (11%), Healthland (9%), and MEDITECH (7%).

Again, Epic's win is not a surprise, because many hospitals prefer to have a single EHR that can be used in both inpatient and ambulatory care settings, and Epic has won more favor with physicians than some other EHRs from hospital IT vendors. CPSI's ranking, however, took Anderson aback because this vendor serves mostly small rural hospitals (the same is true of Healthland). Perhaps because these small hospitals have a lot of ED business, Anderson speculated, they could meet the Meaningful Use threshold for computerized physician order entry in their EDs alone.

In any case, Anderson observed, the rankings are likely to change in coming months as more providers attest to Meaningful Use. If a large organization like Kaiser Permanente or the Mayo Clinic, he noted, had all of their providers attest, it would add many thousands of doctors to the Meaningful Use rolls. On the other hand, when Kaiser doctors attest, it will give another big boost to Epic.

When are emerging technologies ready for clinical use? In the new issue of InformationWeek Healthcare, find out how three promising innovations--personalized medicine, clinical analytics, and natural language processing--show the trade-offs. Download the issue now. (Free registration required.)

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