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EHR Swaps Coming For Many Healthcare Organizations

Healthcare organizations look to replace early electronic health records packages with new systems that perform better, integrate across departments, and tap cloud computing.

time, several vendors -- such as Medinotes (acquired by Eclipsys, then Allscripts); Centricity Advance (which GE closed in 2012); and MyWay (acquired by Allscripts, then discontinued in 2012) -- were bought, merged, or disappeared. Some developers struggled to meet the next layers of mandates, were underfunded, or poorly received.

"What I'm hearing... is hospitals are recognizing there are limitations to their current system. They went out and bought a system under the promise it can hold up the moon and they are realizing it's not. It's almost the folly of creating an unnatural market," said Lorren Pettit, VP for market research at HIMSS Analytics, in an interview. "We've had the central government come in, under Meaningful Use, and put incentives out there. The provider market, the hospitals, are then scurrying around putting systems in place in order to meet these incentives. That's opposed to a natural market, where an organization puts systems in place because they own a need."

Montefiore Medical Center chose Epic, Mony Weschler, chief strategist at the Bronx, N.Y.-based academic medical center and university hospital, told InformationWeek. Indeed, many healthcare providers -- especially larger organizations -- stick with big-name EHR vendors such as Allscripts, Epic, Cerner, GE Healthcare, and McKesson, executives said.

Although KLAS determined 34% of large hospitals that plan to switch EHRs already know what they'll buy and 44% have a strong favorite, there's still lots of movement among smaller hospitals, clinics, and physician practices, vendor and healthcare executives said. Many are interested in cloud-based solutions as a way to reduce IT and infrastructure costs, while increasing flexibility, agility, and remote access. Large hospitals, too, will adopt cloud-based EHRs, said Daniel Kivatinos, co-founder of drchrono.

"Over the next five years, there's going to be massive change in the way doctors work. It's the early infancy stage of electronic medical records," Kivatinos told InformationWeek. "Even the larger hospitals, they've been buying these $50 million systems that are not on the cloud, and I think there's a huge challenge there where they want to be on the cloud, and EHR, in the long run, is going to be on the cloud. I think doctors are very aware of the cloud being something that makes them switch. They want something that allows employees to access the system from home."

No matter their criteria, many healthcare providers are once again looking for EHRs. They want user-friendly systems that will expand as they grow, support mobile employees, and play well across multiple departments.

Download Healthcare IT In The Obamacare Era, the InformationWeek Healthcare digital issue on changes driven by regulation. Modern technology created the opportunity to restructure the healthcare industry around accountable care organizations, but ACOs also put new demands on IT.