Will 2013 be the 'year of the great EHR vendor switch'?

This could be the "Year of the Great EHR Vendor Switch," according to a new Black Book Rankings survey indicating that up to 17 percent of physician practices plan to ditch their current electronic health record system.

Unmet expectations in system features, implementations, deliverables and client support issues are blamed for the dissatisfaction, according to an announcement that tells of dozens, if not hundreds, of software firms underperforming badly enough to lose major market share.

"The high-performance vendors that will emerge as viable past 2015 are those dedicating responsive teams to address customers' current demands," Black Book managing partner Doug Brown said of the survey of nearly 17,000 EHR users.

Customer demands keep increasing, but vendors tend to be so focused on sales and backlogged implementations that development has taken a back seat--at their peril. In particular, client customers are pleading for sophisticated interfaces with other practice programs, complex connectivity and networking schemes, pacing with accountable care progresses, and the rapid EHR adoption of mobile devices.

The "Meaningful Use incentives created an artificial market for dozens of immature EHR products," Brown said. "One-size-fits-all" systems don't fit many practices--especially those of specialists--and cannot continue to satisfy buyers without features that can be customized to the client's needs, he added. That's been a common complaint, with specialty groups including cardiology and pediatrics making announcements recently outlining changes they require in EHR systems.

Of those considering changing vendors, 51 percent were considering switching from one web-based or software-as-a-service option to another; 12 percent were considering a move from a web-based or software-as-a-service product to an on-premise solution; and 19 percent were looking at moving from an on-premise product to a web-based or software-as-a-service option. Only 6 percent were thinking of moving from one on-premise version to another.

The overwhelming reason (80 percent) for considering a switch was that the software did not meet the practice's needs, but 79 percent conceded that the existing system was purchased without fully analyzing the practice's needs.

A separate Black Book survey of 4,000 inpatient software users notes a growing number of hospitals also switching systems, focusing on EHRs delivering integration success, productivity improvements and quality outcomes.

CPSI topped the satisfaction rankings among hospitals with fewer than 1,000 beds. Those with 100 to 249 beds favored Cerner, and Epic Systems was ranked highest among those 250 or more beds.

Meanwhile, a rumored tie-up between North Kansas City, Mo.-based Cerner Corp. and New York-based McKesson Corp. could be a boon to interoperability and efforts to create a national health information exchange. An announcement about that collaboration could come at next month's annual HIMSS conference in New Orleans.

To learn more:
- here's the announcement
- check out the announcement for the hospital survey