Epic, athenahealth tops for EHR usability, KLAS says

Physicians, take heed: The usability of ambulatory electronic health record systems varies significantly, according to the latest report from Orem, Utah-based KLAS Research.

The report, "Ambulatory EHR Usability 2013 More Nurture than Nature," surveyed physician leaders from practices of more than 25 physicians. The best vendors provided software that was stable, reliable and functional, flexibility, a culture of cooperation and "proactive guidance", best practices for implementation, good resources and well trained staff.

The report revealed that Watertown, Mass.-based athenahealth--the most recent entrant into the market--received the highest rating at 85 percent, while New York-based McKesson received the lowest rating at 55 percent. Verona, Wis.-based Epic rated the best at guiding providers to achieve high usability levels.

"Epic offers a broad, integrated clinical suite for large enterprises, while athenahealth markets an ambulatory SaaS solution for practices of all sizes," the report stated. "[B]ut both vendors share a common reputation for hand-holding and prescriptive, best practice implementations."

It also noted that for Allscripts and McKesson customers, "code-quality issues were usability show-stoppers."

The report, KLAS' first on the topic, dovetails with HIMSS Analytics/Capsite Fifth Annual Ambulatory Practice Management and EHR Study, released the same week. According to the HIMSS study, more than one-third (35 percent) of the 800-plus physician groups surveyed plan to buy, replace or upgrade their EHRs. The study also revealed that 35 percent of those physicians noted efficiency as a primary driver for purchasing or updating their EHR.

To learn more:
- here's the HIMSS Analytics study (.pdf)
- read the KLAS announcement