Evaluating EMR Vendors’ Virtual Care Offerings - Cover

Evaluating EMR Vendors’ Virtual Care Offerings

Saying that the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the world is an understatement. During the course of the pandemic, many aspects of life have changed and changed again, and the healthcare industry is no exception. Virtual care, in particular, has been an incredibly dynamic market in the past two years—from its relative disuse before COVID-19 to its boom at the beginning of the pandemic to its current era of consolidation.

KLAS has published multiple reports detailing the virtual care market, focusing on both the widely adopted third-party solutions and the interoperability-minded EMR-centric platforms. Last year, we released our first report solely focused on EMR-centric virtual care platforms, which was based 100% on vendor-provided information and offered an overview of those vendors’ available functionalities. Now, KLAS has published a follow-up report that measures and validates these platforms’ capabilities.

A Look into EMR-Centric Virtual Care

As the widespread use of virtual care that the pandemic ushered in has begun to wane, the areas where virtual care has true staying power are beginning to show. One interesting element of this report is that it clarifies which specialties the featured vendors are being used in. Among those specialties, behavioral health and family medicine/general practice are the service areas where each vendor has been validated—an unsurprising fact considering that those services don’t often require in-person patient examinations. Epic and NextGen Healthcare stand out as offering the only solutions with validated usage across all measured specialties, which speaks to the strength of their virtual care platforms. 


In general, the fully rated vendors—Epic, NextGen Healthcare, and athenahealth—have the most highly rated and broadly adopted products among the virtual care solutions included in this report. Customers note the benefits that come from having an integrated, unified platform, which is ultimately the outcome provider organizations most desire from an EMR-centric virtual care platform. 

An unexpected result from this report was the high performance of the small-practice EMR vendors. Both Elation Health’s and Kareo’s solutions perform well and are rated high for patient-centered performance metrics (which include creating a quality patient experience and improving patient outcomes), highlighting the care quality that patients receive on the small practice side. In the future, KLAS will likely do further research into the performance of these small-practice EMR vendors’ virtual care platforms.

A Return to Third Parties

While respondents confirmed that their EMR-centric virtual care platforms have promise and produce outcomes, the data collection process for this report revealed significant gaps in the organizations’ adoption of these solutions. After adjusting our research questions, we discovered that several customers had stopped using their EMR-centric virtual care platforms and were moving back toward third-party software.

Despite the fact that provider organizations want to move toward consolidation and interoperability, many EMR vendors’ virtual care platforms are still not fully baked and lack certain functionality, especially regarding patient usability. Specifically, rural and underprivileged populations often have less access to the technology needed to facilitate high-speed virtual care visits, and provider organizations find that third-party solutions navigate those populations’ needs better than EMR-centric offerings. Even though several customers interviewed for this report have moved away from their EMR vendors’ virtual care platforms, many of those customers state that they would reconsider those vendors in the future if they provided solutions that can compete with those of third-party vendors.

The Future of Virtual Care

As virtual care has already changed so much, we can only expect that it will continue to morph and adjust to meet the needs of patients and provider organizations. At KLAS, we anticipate that the market will continue toward consolidation, and we hope to gain better visibility into which specialties this consolidation is happening in. As discussed before, areas such as behavioral health and family medicine/general practice will most likely continue to see higher virtual care usage than other areas, but only time will tell where patients and provider organizations will need to utilize virtual care technology.

With that in mind, it is more important than ever for EMR vendors to be accountable and use their resources to create quality, robust virtual care offerings for their customers. KLAS hopes this report will be a reference guide that helps provider organizations determine whether to invest in their EMR vendors’ virtual care offerings. To fully understand what is going on in this market and see full details on vendor performance, we invite readers to check out the full report.