My EHR Vendor is Losing Market Share – What Should I Do?
By Jason Fortin
These are turbulent times for many EHR vendors. In fact, according to a 2014 report from KLAS, only three vendors – Epic, Cerner, and Meditech – gained hospital market share in 2013; everyone else lost more hospital customers than they won.
What should you do if your EHR vendor is one of the many that is losing market share?
Understand the market dynamics. The reality is the EHR market is shifting quickly right now, with rapid consolidation and distinct winners and losers. A number of vendors are losing customers, but there are many reasons hospitals and health systems decide to change their core EHR. Some of the shift in EHR market share is due to justified concerns about the long-term viability of certain vendors, but increasingly, it is also a result of other factors, such as recently-merged hospitals and health systems looking to align on a single EHR.
Ask the tough questions. Go beyond the headlines and try to determine why your EHR vendor is losing market share. Are these things that can change? For example, is the loss of customers a result of the vendor’s lack of executive leadership and vision? Or is it more due to the current features and functionality of the product?
It is also important to look at what types of customers the vendor is losing and how fast the attrition is happening. Are clients being lost only in a specific segment outside the vendor’s target market (such as smaller community hospitals or large AMCs)? Or are all types of customers looking to switch?
Lastly, evaluate the level and immediacy of risk. Is the loss of market share so severe that the vendor could go out of business in the next one or two years?
Don’t panic, but evaluate if your needs are being met. Look at all the factors involved. Even if your vendor is losing market share, consider how their product specifically supports your business and clinical needs right now. Do they have a clearly defined plan to support your business and clinical needs in the future?
Also consider what your vendor offers in the context of what it will take to stay competitive in your market. For example, “interoperability” is an important characteristic, but it is far more important to have a system that can exchange discrete data with the specific EHRs that are predominant in your region.
Take an objective look at the alternatives and make a decision. Evaluate the market, looking at other core EHRs as well as applicable niche solutions to get a sense of different approaches to functionality that is most important to you (i.e. data exchange, population health, etc.) Compare those to your current EHR and be honest in terms of which capabilities represent a significant improvement over what you have, which are essentially a trade-off, and which might be nice to have but aren’t critical to achieve your specific business and clinical goals.
If you decide to leave your vendor, carefully consider your options for selecting a new one. One course of action is a full system selection, which involves a thorough and comprehensive look at multiple solutions (including detailed demos and interviews), but may not be practical from a timing perspective or in cases when a replacement is urgently needed. An alternative option is a “null hypothesis” selection. This approach is focused on starting with the best potential fit based on your scan of market leaders, and then undergoing an expedited selection process with that one “null hypothesis” vendor to try and disprove why it would not be a good EHR for your organization.
The bottom line is loss of market share is a valid reason for customers to be concerned about their core EHR vendor. In some cases, it is sufficient cause to begin looking at a potential replacement. But it is also important to look at why a vendor is losing customers and to objectively look at your current system and the alternatives in the context of what your organization will specifically need to remain competitive in your market. Committing to an EHR vendor is a big decision, and unfortunately in the current landscape, it is not a decision hospitals and health systems can afford to get wrong.
Jason Fortin is senior advisor with Impact Advisors of Naperville, IL.