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Top 5 reasons to do an EMR replacement

Switching EMR systems is no picnic. But what if your provider gets acquired, or your small practice starts to grow beyond the EMR's functionality?

An EMR replacement is certainly a disruptive project, but there are a few reasons some healthcare organizations want to do so.

Not only does it require financial investment, but an electronic medical record (EMR) replacement involves retraining of staff, data migration and potential technical issues. Still, there are some compelling reasons to move away from an existing EMR, including poor system performance, lack of certification and lack of critical functionality.

With the constant changes in healthcare around outcome-based payment models, pressing needs for population health, demand for more patient engagement and a desire to take advantage of data analytics, not every EMR vendor can keep up with all of it. This also limits the list of vendors from which to choose, but some options include Allscripts, NextGen, GE, eClinicalWorks, Athenahealth and Greenway.

1. Replacing client- and server-based EMR with a cloud platform

There is a growing trend around the adoption of cloud-based applications. The benefit of not having to manage the software, servers, backups and all other components required for an EMR are attractive to medical practices.

Another appealing reason to consider a cloud-based EMR is the modern user interface and mobile-friendly and rich interactive experiences that hosted EMR platforms -- such as Athenahealth, Practice Fusion and DrChrono -- have to offer. Organizations can deploy these offerings in a lot less time than traditional EMR, and they require very little IT involvement, minimizing the upfront costs and complexity.

2. Outgrowing existing EMR as the practice grows

Another common reason for medical groups to consider an EMR replacement is outgrowing their platform. Small or solo physician practices that may have started out with products such as AltaPoint or Lytech are likely to look elsewhere as they grow into bigger practices with multiple physicians. The desire to replace those systems stems from their lack of advanced functionality around reporting, analytics, mobile apps and population health management.

3. EMR vendors getting acquired

Practices are looking for one-stop shops to get all their application needs.

Another trend in the EMR market is the acquisition of some EMR vendors. This can result in new ownership forcing customers into EMR replacement. In many of those instances, the practices decide to seek alternatives. Some recent acquisitions include the following:

  • AdvancedMD acquired NueMD in 2018.
  • Allscripts acquired Practice Fusion in 2018,
  • EMDs acquired McKesson, which owns Practice Partners, in 2016.

4. Combining separate tools into one EMR platform

Medical practices certainly want to work in one EMR platform when it comes to dealing with medical records, billing and scheduling. Now, there is growing demand for population health and patient engagement platforms to be combined with those tools in all-in-one platforms. Practices are looking for one-stop shops to get all their application needs. Some products that include many of these functionalities in one platform include NextGen, Athenahealth, Epic and eClinicalWorks.

5. Mergers and acquisitions of medical practices

Mergers and acquisitions are also a trend among healthcare practices that could lead to EMR replacement. Hospitals are no longer the only ones looking to grow their networks through acquisitions; several independent physicians' groups are doing the same thing by acquiring smaller practices within their specialties.

This move forces the organizations being acquired to replace their existing EMR to be on the same unified EMR as the parent company. They must do so to centralize billing and scheduling functions for their multiple locations and create their own EMR best practices.

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