When it comes to functionality, the ambulatory EMR market is far from being a level playing field, according to a new KLAS report, which identified a 30-point difference in usability between the highest and lowest-rated vendors.
The study — Ambulatory EMR Usability 2013: More Nurture than Nature — focused on the performance of EMR products in general as well as by medical specialty. The most recent market entrant, athenahealth, received the highest effectiveness and efficiency scores as well as the highest overall usability ratings, both at go-live and at present time. Epic was rated as being the best at guiding providers to achieve high levels of usability.
“Meaningful use is driving the adoption of EMRs, but at times this comes at the cost of efficiency and effectiveness,” said report author Mark Wagner. “The financial investment in EMR technology can be large for providers, but this investment pales in comparison to the outlay in effort providers are making to customize the products to achieve high usability.”
According to the report, one of the strongest indicators of EMR usability is how well vendors guide their clients. “Epic offers a broad, integrated clinical suite for large enterprises while athenahealth markets an ambulatory SaaS solution for practices of all sizes, but both vendors share a common reputation for hand-holding and prescriptive, best practice implementations,” Wagner noted.
KLAS also found code quality to be a key determining factor, with Allscripts and McKesson customers both citing code-quality issues. The two vendors had the smallest portions of customers who felt successful and the largest portions that invested extensive effort to make their systems usable.
For the study, KLAS interviewed leaders from groups with more than 25 physicians to determine the performance for each of the vendors as well as the contributing elements behind each of the ratings. The products reviewed in the report include Allscripts Enterprise, athenahealth, Cerner, eClincialWorks, Epic, GE Healthcare CPS, Greenway, McKesson Practice Partner, and NextGen.