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EHR Rankings: Who Has KLAS?

Electronic health records (EHRs) may be one of the most frustrating aspects of Meaningful Use implementation for doctors, nurses, and hospitals. As previously reported by AlliedHealthWorld.com, EHRs have the potential to revolutionize health care in a way that can make gathering information on a patient, as well as obtaining their medical records, quicker and more efficient. If a patient switches hospitals or insurance companies their information can travel with them. This may allow doctors to study up on a patient before an appointment, or keep nurses from having to ask health questions that people may have previously answered with their former doctors.

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For all the benefits of this technology, however, some studies have shown that many hospitals and care facilities are frustrated with certain EHRs. AmericanEHR Partners surveyed over 4,000 primary care physicians, diagnostic professionals, and specialists about their EHR systems. The survey found that overall satisfaction dropped 12 percentage points over two years, from 39 percent in 2010 to 27 percent in 2012. The rate of people saying they were "dissatisfied" rose from 11 percent to 21 percent over the same time, and 39 percent of clinicians would not recommend their EHR to a colleague.

This is not good news, as hospitals and health care facilities participating in Meaningful Use need to install and use EHRs in order to earn incentive payments. Hospitals that don't participate will see their Medicare and Medicaid payments decrease. Having an EHR that is operationally sound will help ease the transition from paper to electronic records, but it seems many health care professionals do not like the current systems they are using. A research firm has just released a study that rates EHR systems, which may be helpful for hospitals and small practices.

In a KLAS by themselves

KLAS Research works with more than 7,000 hospitals, clinics, and doctor's offices to conduct more than 1,900 interviews each month in order to rate their products, services, and technologies. With all the information they gather KLAS publishes about 40 reports a year. KLAS collects information about software, service firms, and medical equipment and rates each on 15-25 different criteria. Respondents to the KLAS survey rate each criterion on a scale of 1-9, or with a "yes" or "no" when necessary, and the final score is based on a 100-point scale. While KLAS has separate research methodologies for rating software, service firms, and medical equipment, some of their criteria overlap. They can include:

  • Contracting experience
  • Product works as promoted
  • Money's worth
  • Would you buy again
  • Quality of implementation
  • Lives up to expectations
  • Overall satisfaction

Recently they conducted a study of about 400 small practices to find out which EHR systems they preferred. KLAS found that Athenahealth, cofounded by Jonathan Bush, a cousin to former President George W. Bush, rated at the top of the list. Respondents enjoyed the EHR because it provided "consistent, clean product enhancements and high service levels" according to Erik Bermudez, the author of the study. Athenahealth also keeps in contact with the practices it deals with, watching how they use the product and giving them suggestions about how best to optimize their use of the EHR. Close on the heels of Athenahealth are SRSsoft and PracticeFusion, both scoring within tenths of a point behind the leader, with 86.7 and 86.3 points respectively.

There were a number of other EHR systems that scored above 80, including Amazing Charts, e-MDs, SOAPware, CureMD, and Aprima Medical Software.

"Difficult to get support"

Having a source that provides in-depth information and customer reviews on which EHR is the most reliable may slow the number of hospitals and small practices that feel the need to switch systems because the ratings will allow them to see how satisfied others are with the product. In August of 2012 KLAS reported that 50 percent of the EHRs being sold were replacements for failed systems. Unhappy respondents said their reasons for switching included poor service, bad vendor relationships, and software problems. Of one poorly rated system, people said that the company felt "distracted," and that it is "difficult to get support."

The move to digital records is about providing health care professionals with a more efficient way to collect, house, and recall information about their patients. Having faulty systems, poor contact with vendors, and a lack of technological support cause frustrations and lead to customers finding new products to use. With the KLAS report, hospitals and small practices can find quality EHRs to buy.

About the Author:

Jamar Ramos has been writing poetry and fiction for many years, and earned his bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing from San Francisco State University. For the last three years, Mr. Ramos switched to producing blog posts for CBSSports.com and writing professionally as an independent contributor for a number of Internet sites. His creative works have been featured in The Bohemian and The San Matean. He now contributes articles for OnlineDegrees.com, OnlineColleges.com, and AlliedHealthWorld.com.