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Meaningful Health Care Informatics Blog

Aug 21 2011   9:44PM GMT

Differences between an EHR software vendor and an EHR solution provider

Posted by: RedaChouffani
EHR functionality, EHR vendors, IaaS, Solution providers

When the ARRA stimulus package was signed into law in 2009, health care organizations had to shift gears to full speed ahead in search of the perfect EHR solution. This, of course, excited software vendors in the marketplace and spurred economic growth in the industry. Furthermore, it encouraged many vendors to race for ONC certification and strive for HIPAA 5010 compliance, ICD10 transition success, HIE and mobility in their products.

The increase in both demand and supply of products and services, however, meant that vendors have had to continually find new ways to differentiate themselves in terms of their products’ core features and functionalities, which includes deciding to go the route of either a “software vendor” or “solution provider.”

The reality is that there are two types of EHR providers who can help a health care organization achieve its enterprise IT goals and adhere to federal compliance guidelines:

·EHR software vendor

·EHR solution provider

EHR software vendor: This grouping of companies refers simply to the vendor type that comes to your organization, shows you a PowerPoint or demo of the product and its functionality and generates a quote for the organization, often including a claim that said product is the “best EHR that ever existed”. These software vendors will often offer their product for download or purchase online. They are also the vendors that talk in terms of how physician’s can click on buttons to get from point A to point B, but stop there.

An electronic health record should help achieve positive results throughout the organization well after implementation, including improving patient care, reducing operational costs and increasing overall efficiency in the organization and system as a whole. In this respect type, one could argue that the software vendor’s limited involvement and lack of long-term strategic guidance might not provide the highest value-add or insight as to how their product will help accomplish an organization’s overarching IT goals in the long run.

EHR solution provider: On the opposite end of the spectrum you will find the vendors who work closely with an organization to assess if a product is a good fit for the group first, in terms of ensuring that their products and services will provide an attainable, tangible and measurable ROI. These are also the groups that will first learn about your organization’s challenges and strategic vision for the future prior to pulling up any presentation or quote.

In my opinion, these are the IBMs of the marketplace. They provide a comprehensive solution through offering their assistance with HIE integration, meaningful use compliance, mobile app development, revenue cycle management and consulting, patient portals, system integration assistance, clearinghouse services and many other services that can help with the myriad of IT challenges and projects health care organizations are currently spearheading.

In my opinion, tomorrow’s EHR vendor will look and act a lot like Microsoft and IBM, providing many of the following services:

·Expert consulting

·Health care informatics and data analytics

·IT and admin support

·Infrastructure as a Service (Iaas)

·Products and solutions


·Connectivity and application customization


Clearly today’s health care IT leaders need to be considering more than just the software when assessing the right EHR vendor fit for their organizations. They must look for a company who will be a true strategic partner, working side by side for the long haul, not disappearing as soon as the install is complete, leaving only a support number to call. 

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