Study: Cardiology IT Systems Need Better Data Integration

McKesson, Merge, Philips, and Siemens top cardiology IT space, but no one vendor fully meets providers' needs, says Health IT research firm KLAS.
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Cardiology IT vendors have yet to offer providers a single-vendor platform that includes all the features they need, according to a report recently released by KLAS.

The report asked providers to list and rate the cardiology IT software they are currently using. The report noted levels of provider adoption in percentages, separated by picture archiving and communication systems (PACS) and the reporting modules in use. Providers then rated the functional strength of the modules they use.

Modules rated included adult echo and catheterization, pediatric echocardiology and catheterization, vascular/peripheral vascular, nuclear cardiology, and electrophysiology.

"This has been repeated for quite some time," said report author Monqiue Rasband in an interview with InformationWeek Healthcare . "Across the board… there's no [vendor] who [does it well]. Companies are getting better, but providers would like to see better reporting and structured reporting."

Providers also would like to see patient data from their cardiology IT systems showing up in their enterprise EMR, said Rasband. "It's common to have multiple vendors, and it's common to have a different vendor than who you have for your EMR vendor," she said.

Instead of showing overall satisfaction ratings, the report showcased satisfaction rates along with the percentage of adoption for major modules. Looking at vendors in this light allowed researchers to identify three tiers of vendors, said Rasband.

[ For the latest development on Meaningful Use, see Meaningful Use Stage 2 Rules Finalized. ]

"Scores are different depending on modality," she said. "We took all of those [modalities], and they all weighed an equal amount. So if you have a lot of adoption, it will raise you higher… [I]f you list vendor by score, it's deceptive. It's important for providers to know they need to look at what they have and what they need. If you're just focusing on echo, Digisonics is great. But if you need vascular and nuclear and EP, you're going to want to go with other people who have deeper adoption in those areas, so a McKesson or a Merge."

Tier one included vendors with the best balance between adoption and satisfaction, such as McKesson, Merge, Philips, and Siemens. According to the report, the vendors in this tier demonstrate their customers have adopted modules at a higher level than the other vendors in the study, and they maintain overall satisfaction scores that are above the cardiology average. Tier two includes Digisonics, Lumedx, and ScImage, which all tend to have light adoption for specific modules only.

Tier three includes Agfa, Fuji, and GE. According to the study, only about 40% of Afga's own customers would choose Agfa, which was the lowest percentage in the study. In addition, Afga customers also didn't vote it as their go-to vendor of choice. Instead, providers felt Agfa is not a partner for the long term, and "there isn't much hope the system will get better," said the report.

Similarly, Fuji experienced a seven-point drop in already poor overall satisfaction scores, due to a "lack of development and a customer perception that Fuji has not kept their promises to integrate their platform." However, Fuji did tie with Merge for having the largest number of customers who would want to work with them as their single vendor, and they also have one of the highest proportions of new customers.

Although on an upswing since last year's report, GE fell a few points due to the lack of future offerings and current offerings not meeting providers' needs in integration, functionality, or value.

Overall, though, Rasband said she is optimistic about where the cardiology IT segment is headed. "I do think [cardiology technology] is getting closer and I feel even from the last year, there have been some nice improvements," she said. "…It's important to note several of the vendors have announced they have new versions, and some even have new platforms coming out. With that being said, it could be six months or it could be 12. It's complicated in cardiology, but I feel good about the direction in which the market is going."

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