KLAS: Providers turn to niche vendors for population health management

The big electronic health record vendors are scrambling to portray themselves as population health specialists, but providers are leaning more toward working with "best of breed" population health vendors rather than their incumbent EHRs for their accountable care needs, according to a new study released by Orem, Utah-based KLAS Research.

The study, entitled Accountable Care Timing 2013: Migration from Volume to Value Speeds Up, surveyed 73 organizations, most of which were integrated delivery systems and hospitals. Accountable care is seen as inevitable, with two thirds of respondents expecting that managing populations will be the standard mode of operations in the next few years, although different providers will transition to it in waves.

Interestingly, more than 65 percent plan on using niche vendors to fill their populations health needs, as well as their health information exchange and business intelligence needs, even though vendors are spending millions of dollars to recast their products and reputations to cover these areas. 

"This is a major shift from what we are seeing in most healthcare IT areas," report author Mark Allphini said in a statement. "What we are seeing in many areas is a migration toward integration. The fact that providers tell us that they will be looking to niche vendors over their EMRs tells us that the ACO market very likely is still up for grabs."        

Epic customers were most likely to describe long term vision for the vendor's role, but often with a third-party solution.

This is not the first time that current EHR systems were seen as inadequate or lacking functionality. A KLAS study published last month, for instance, found some incumbent EHR systems unable to adequately support population health needs. What's more, a KLAS  report published in the fall determined that some patient portals were unable to support Stage 2 of Meaningful Use. 

To learn more:
- here's the KLAS announcement

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