The Start of the Best in KLAS Awards - Cover

The Start of the Best in KLAS Awards

The dark age of vendor partner selection was at its peak just prior to the turn of the century, the year 2000. The most successful vendors worked from the top down building strong relationships with provider executives to win big contracts. Marketing materials and PowerPoint presentations capped off with strong social relationships won big deals.

The First Best in KLAS Report Cover from 1999

Many decisions were based upon the “IBM” rule at the time, “you won’t get fired if you go with the same vendor as everyone else.” The world was moving from mainframes to client server based systems and the future of hands on electronic tools was unmapped. If someone could just tell the industry the truth about vendor performance, providers could make a better decision. The challenge laid before KLAS was clear.

KLAS’ first vendor comparison report published in 1999 was received excitedly by providers. How did KLAS get to that point? It began at the San Diego HIMSS meeting in 1997 which had me bunking with a friend to save money while I did my research on how to really help Provider organizations better understand their software vendor options. Twenty-four years marketing software to provider executives across the country gave me a large, fertile field of industry friends to start the ball rolling and guide KLAS. “Hurry up and measure the vendors. We need to know our options as soon as possible,” was the challenge voiced by CIOs and CFOs faced with pressure to pick a new EMR.

I was personally excited to see how each vendor rated to compare with my own projections as to how the first comparison would turn out. (My projections proved to be off significantly). So, we published our first comparison report, “Performance Report – Top 20” in the spring of 1999. That report was reminiscent of how sports teams were compared. It was not long until we had several companies at our door with their attorneys in tow, trying to find a way to silence this new provider voice.

One powerful company came to Utah and started our meeting with a threat, “we have seven attorneys in Philadelphia waiting to file suit.” Thank goodness for our courageous provider partners that stood by us like Bob Blades, Bill Spooner, Mike Smith, Jim Turnbull, Paula Anthony, Meg Aranow and many, many others.

It wasn’t long after that when Karen Ondo, a KLAS executive, gave a presentation on vendor performance at a national HIMSS meeting and they had to close the doors based upon the fire marshal’s limit on how many could be in the room. I would say it was standing room only, but in truth many people sat on the floor along the walls to hear how the vendors perform.


It didn’t take long for provider organizations to ask for KLAS to expand the products and services measured to include the broad range of software, expensive medical equipment and consulting services. The format and content of the comparison report eventually became divided by industry segments and evolved into what we now know as the Best in KLAS report. Accompanied by an annual celebration of the same name to honor stellar vendor performance during the annual HIMSS conference to recognize those client-passionate vendors.

Our thanks to providers across the country and now around the world that provide the foundation for measuring vendor performance. And a high five to those passionate vendors that exceed expectations and make this work so fun to be a part of.

Hope to see you in the next “Best in KLAS” report.