3 Key Reasons Why Practices Switch EHR Systems

As the EHR market continues to mature, early adopters of the technology have begun to migrate to other vendors. A survey of 17,000 physician practices conducted by Black Book Rankings found that 23% of practices with EHRs are unhappy enough with their current system to switch to a new system or vendor, while 17% of practices planned to make a change in 2013. Although technology consumers can be a fickle lot, valuable insight can be gained from the reasons EHR users cite as to why they defected to a different vendor. Three main reasons underlie the decision to switch EHR systems.

1. Compatibility with practice needs

In the Black Book survey, a vast majority of users (77-80%) indicated the decision to switch EHR systems to another vendor rested on their software’s inability to meet practice needs adequately. Respondents’ revealed that either the practice did not adequately assess needs before selecting original EHR or EHR design not suited for the practice specialty or specialties. These results indicate two probable issues. The first, providers selected an EHR system without adequate information or, second, the practice evolved beyond the functionality of the EHR system. In either case, changing systems was the likely outcome.

2. Customer service and usability

According to the same survey data, 44% of EHR users cite an unresponsive vendor as the primary reason for changing to another system. It may seem common sense to focus on customer service in a flooded market; however, many vendors are failing on this dimension. This data revealed that a vendor’s customer service performance rates highly in the minds of EHR users.

If a practice is unable to use its EHR effectively due to system or user technical issues then there is the potential for lost cash flow or care delivery problems, particularly if users are unable to use the software. When coupled with investment costs for the EHR system, a practice can ill afford to lose more funds due to technical problems.

A vast swath of the EHR market appear to be falling short in customer service. From data published in the online journal Medical Economics about 60% of the respondents rated the quality of EHR training and the vendor’s ability to solve technical problems as “good” or “excellent.” On the other hand, many respondents gave their vendors fair or poor scores for their ability to solve technical problems (30%), the level of support the practice received in configuring the EHR (29%), the quality and amount of training (28%).

3. Interoperability/integration

Integration and exchange capabilities form the foundation for EHR functionality going forward. For a provider who may be merging with a larger practice and must adopt a system compatible with the larger system or wishes to exchange data with outside providers, compatibility and sharing capability are vital. According to the Black Book survey, 20% of providers cited that their current EHR does not adequately communicate with other EHRs. 11% indicated that another practice’s software modules not integrating with EHR was the reason for defecting to another vendor.

Recommended reading: Our EHR vendor comparison guide allows you to find EHR vendors that will suit your practice

So there you have it, 3 key reasons physicians decide to switch EHR systems. If these three points resonate with your EHR it may be time to switch EHR systems. But a word of warning, many of these issue could have been avoided had a proper EHR selection taken place, remember to choose an EHR that not only matches your current practice needs but that will also grow and adapt with your practice. Choose a vendor whose software is capable of operating with other modules and is capable of linking with other systems, and when those technical issues arise, make sure your EHR vendor offers a support package to meet your practice.

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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

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