Healthcare // Electronic Health Records
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8/6/2012
01:16 PM
Paul Cerrato
Paul Cerrato
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Overworked EHR Vendors Not Big On Tech Support

Don't expect much help after signing on the dotted line for a new electronic help record system. EHR vendors' resources are stretched thin as they struggle to meet demand, and you'll have to find ways to fill the inevitable gaps in support and employee training.

12 EHR Vendors That Stand Out
12 EHR Vendors That Stand Out
(click image for larger view and for slideshow)
At InformationWeek Healthcare's recent virtual event, Electronic Health Records: Moving Beyond The Basics, Mark Wagner, senior research director for KLAS, a health IT advisory firm, shared the expectations of many healthcare providers looking to purchase an electronic health record system. One clinician's demands summed up the thoughts of many:

"I want a system that can be customized but that doesn't take an IT expert to do it. I want a system that meets meaningful use and has a PM [practice management] system to accompany it. I would love a system that meshes with our specialty without having to modify it too much. Lastly, I want an affordable system that keeps up with all the mandates pushed on our specialty and yet does not slow down our productivity."

In an ideal world, that system would exist, but there's the dream and then there's reality, Wagner says. And the reality is that compromises have to be made, especially in today's market where EHR vendors are so busy selling systems that they barely have time to support the ones they've installed, much less create a platform that meets all your needs.

[ For more background on e-prescribing tools, see 6 E-Prescribing Vendors To Watch. ]

There are more than 600 EHRs that are certified to meet the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services' Meaningful Use financial incentives. Finding the right vendor in this maze of confusing options requires an appreciation for these market conditions.

To begin with, there's a good chance the vendor you choose is going to say: We'll put you on our list and get back to you in eight months. Some vendors might be able to install the system immediately but then will move onto their 100 other customers, leaving you to fend for yourself with staff training and tech support. In this environment, expecting a vendor to provide the ideal system--that's fully customizable, effortlessly meets all the MU requirements, meshes with all your specialists' needs, is affordable, and doesn't affect staff productivity--isn't in the cards.

Vendor resources are stretched too thin to make that happen. And with accountable care and ICD 10 on the horizon, the need for sophisticated EHR systems will only escalate. How does a healthcare provider cope?

The most successful medical practices don't rely solely on their EHR vendors. They supplement the EHR vendor's resources with competent staff of their own, sometimes with the help of a third party, to fill the gaps, Wagner said.

And the most successful providers accept the fact that EHR implementation will inevitably affect physician productivity, at least at the onset. Be prepared for the hurricane.

InformationWeek Healthcare brought together eight top IT execs to discuss BYOD, Meaningful Use, accountable care, and other contentious issues. Also in the new, all-digital CIO Roundtable issue: Why use IT systems to help cut medical costs if physicians ignore the cost of the care they provide? (Free with registration.)

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jaysimmons
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jaysimmons,
User Rank: Apprentice
9/8/2012 | 9:19:59 PM
re: Overworked EHR Vendors Not Big On Tech Support
From my view point, our EHR vendor (NextGen) has done a great job helping us get started down the path of deployment. From my perspective many people who have implemented EHR systems have traditionally understaffed and expected their vendor to provide everyday support for them which is just impractal at this point and time. This also seems to be a very healthcare IT paradigm. When we install our Exchange server, do we expect to call Microsoft for every day support or only as a point of escalation and hire internal IT people to assist with every day support? I'm curious as to why we expect this from our EHR vendors.
We have been rather successful in our implementation of our EHR by combining internal staff and consulting companies for everyday support and then escalating to our vendor as needed.
Jay Simmons
Information Week Contributor
Healthcare IT Systems
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Healthcare IT Systems,
User Rank: Apprentice
8/19/2012 | 9:00:57 PM
re: Overworked EHR Vendors Not Big On Tech Support
I understand your frustration. They definitely aren't going to fill the knowledge gap by not hiring anyone. That's very short sighted. There isn't a profession or job out there that doesn't have people start from 'day 1' at some point. At least you have the training and you would think someone would snatch you up... good luck!
CCLAY641
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CCLAY641,
User Rank: Apprentice
8/13/2012 | 7:36:49 PM
re: Overworked EHR Vendors Not Big On Tech Support
My problem is finding a job with a company that needs tech support. Having completed my program for HITECH. I am in the process of job hunting for the opportunity to put my new skills to use. I have worked at IT training long before finishing nursing school. I have not been able to get in and put my skills to use. I am still reading stories about all of the companies needing help. But still no one to open the door for me to get in.

Healthcare IT Systems
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Healthcare IT Systems,
User Rank: Apprentice
8/13/2012 | 5:32:18 AM
re: Overworked EHR Vendors Not Big On Tech Support
@Mslice - I'm not sure how realistic is it for a practice to have 'a team' of implementation specialists that have been involved in multiple EHR projects. I would imagine that a vendor should have those individuals. Essentially a practice may have some individuals that have been through one implementation, not several. Implementation professionals are few and far between...and for a team of these individuals to be at a practice...highly unlikely. This is why customers rely on vendors and consultants. Not because they want to, but because implementations is not the core expertise. Their expertise is in providing healthcare.
http://HealthcareITsystems.com
lbell284
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lbell284,
User Rank: Apprentice
8/9/2012 | 3:39:59 AM
re: Overworked EHR Vendors Not Big On Tech Support
They need all the help they can get. Our local hospital is a good example. My wife had a heart problem and went in an ambulance. The hospital just switched over to a new system not long ago and found they can't access any of the old records anymore so the doctor couldn't see any of her previous information. Mess up situation there.
Mslice
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Mslice,
User Rank: Apprentice
8/7/2012 | 1:30:10 PM
re: Overworked EHR Vendors Not Big On Tech Support
EHR companies are indeed overwhelmed with the influx of practices implementing their products. As a healthcare IT company (http://www.mdtechpro.com), we've helped to fill this gap and help to support practices while they navigate the minefield of implementation and support of their EHR. I'd recommend that a practice has an internal team who has implemented numerous EHR solutions before or that they engage a third party to assist them for a successful roll out.
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