Posted by: RedaChouffani
EHR, software achitecture
As we continue to see the trend toward vendor consolidation in the EHR marketplace, there is always the question about which products and which vendors will be on top. But in my mind, the question is not so much a matter of who or what will be on top, but more importantly, can they stay ahead and constantly embrace innovation.
For the health care software market, there are several strong giants that provide robust products with every feature known to man. We continue to see the blurring line between the differentiators of these products, and it is common to hear the same sales pitch from each and every one, never having a clear picture of why product XYZ is different, or better, than product ABC.
So the question to be asked is, should health care organizations be concerned with the life of the products which they are purchasing and the acquisitions that are happening? Well, the good news is that EHR vendors are not going anywhere. Many of whom were originally considered too small to get certification and be listed on the certified EHR list worked hard to make the mark and are working even harder to maintain their market share. This is due to the fact that most of the requirements from the certification bodies for meaningful use are functionalities that good health care software firms should have in their products to start with. And thanks to a faster development life cycle, many application developers have been able to meet almost all of the requirements from the ONC-Authorized Testing and Certification Bodies.
The one thing that continues to be a critical aspect to whether a software solution will survive the ever-changing market, simply put, is how the actual EHR product is designed. Is it an open architecture? Can it easily adapt to changes without major redesigns, i.e., does the product support web services, cross platforms, have a strong database engine, as well as written using OOP (Object Oriented Programming)? Of course there are still top performing EHR vendors whose products were built using older development platforms and non-SQL based databases, products which have been very successful and are still demand, though this will continue to change as the market continues to evolve, and more sophisticated platforms with increased functionality and capabilities become a necessity.
We have seen many software vendors today in a race to provide mobile apps for their products in order to ensure that you are not left “on the bench.” But it remains to be seen whether the “app” is worthy of its title. These mHealth apps must, first and foremost, provide VALUE to the end user (in this, the clinicians and care givers), and not simply be the manifestation of another marketing bullet in the product’s brochure or another costly feature on the price schedule.