athenahealth resigns from 'outdated' EHRA

Cloud-based electronic health record vendor athenahealth has resigned from HIMSS' Electronic Health Records Association (EHRA), citing philosophical differences and concerns that the benefits were outweighed by other considerations.

In a resignation letter to the EHRA dated April 22, Dan Haley, athenahealth's vice president of government affairs and assistant general counsel, explained that athenahealth is not a traditional EHR company, calling it a "services company that offers cloud based EHRs as one competent of a large suite of services."

"Our public policy priorities are broader and more varied than those of our traditional software vendor peers, and our positions on priorities that overlap are often different or even opposed to those adopted by the Association," Haley wrote. 

He also expressed concerns that the EHRA, founded 10 years ago, was still dominated by those vendors the initial vendors from which it formed, and that the association advocated too much for the preservation of government subsidies and other policy "buttresses" for outdated and non-interoperable technology.

"Too often ... as a cloud-based services provider dedicated to information fluidity, openness, and transparency in healthcare, we find our policy objectives do not align with and are even opposed to the consensus positions of the association." 

The resignation was effective immediately.

In a related blog post, Haley noted that athenahealth "never really belonged" in the association, and that part of the problem was EHRA's advocacy against aspects of the Meaningful Use program, pushing for slower timelines, delayed deadlines and lower bars because the non-cloud vendors couldn't meet the requirements. He also said that the company is looking for other like-minded "future oriented" companies to join in creating an alternative as a "rip and replace" on an "outdated" association.

Athenahealth has garnered additional media attention this month. The Office of Inspector General took the highly unusual step of reversing its approval of athenahealth's EHR data sharing program, originally okayed in 2011.

To learn more:
- read the resignation letter (.pdf)
- here's the blog post