Is the EHR Software Market Saturated….with Mediocre Products?

Shameem C. Hameed, Chairman or Z H Healthcare, a Virginia-based HIT firm published an interesting article recently which provides an insightful look into the problems related to the state of competition in the EHR software market and its pace of development.

A Metaphorical Koi Pond

The EHR software pond is filled with plenty of fish; there is a handful of big fish, some medium fish and some much smaller fish. The problem is, all the small and medium fish are going to aspire to grow up to be just like the big fish. They aspire to swim slowly in the koi pond and wait for that endless supply of incentive-induced fish food to be tossed their way.

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The small and medium size fish wait for the big fish to move along and pick up the scraps left behind. The problem with this is that it results in an endless cycle of slow swimming fish who can expect to get their food without much work. Think of the current EHR software market, like our metaphorical koi pond. The status quo in the pond is breeding big slow fish, in a nutshell, a lack of incentive to depart from the status quo results in a lack of change and innovation.

Inorganic Market Development

The EHR market’s current trajectory of development has been influenced heavily by government intervention. Government intervention, in this case, comes in the form of Meaningful Use incentive payments offered to providers who continue to incorporate EHR at various levels of sophistication.

With incentives in place, the EHR market has not developed organically, rather it developed under conditions which ensured there would be a steady supply of EHR consumers. EHR developers rushed to this opportunity creating a highly saturated market with a few large vendors at the top occupying a large market share and an abundance of midsize and smaller players occupying the remnants of the market vying for business from providers not served by the few large vendors. Under these conditions, mid-size and smaller vendors can survive as long as they do not take risks on development and deviate from the status quo.

the EHR market has not developed organically, rather it developed under conditions which ensured there would be a steady supply of EHR consumers.

Large vendors perhaps lulled into complacency by a lack of “up and comers” developing innovative products continue to do what serves them best, that being offering products that just tick off the Meaningful Use requirements with little other substantial innovation. In the end the EHR software market will continue to muddle along until someone in the market decides to take a risk and act on the fact that EHR consumers are losing patience with the status quo. The only remedy to this discontent is doing something different and not simply becoming just another big slow fish.

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Jeff Green

About the author…

Jeff Green, MPH, JD works as a freelance writer and consultant in the Healthcare information Technology Space.

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Jeff Green