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Peer Pressure and Interoperability; Does Anonymity Help?

In a highly energized political season, do you ever wonder who presidential candidates would vote for if a secret ballot were held (and, of course, the politicians could not vote for themselves). Surely these candidates see a side of each other that we as the voting public don’t see—what insights would this secret ballot provide?
 
In a similar vein, KLAS reached out to vendors, and here is the rest of the story . . . 

Peer Pressure and Interoperability; Does Anonymity Help? 
 
The peer pressure around public statements and public actions can do much good or much harm. This second blog in a series of three explores what happens when passionate industry participants can express themselves free from public scrutiny. Last week’s blog highlighted the results of when providers (in their private interviews with KLAS) picked the easiest and most difficult vendors to connect with. Today, the vendors enjoy the veil of anonymity and pick their peer EMR vendors that are most and least effective to work with. 

To capture a vendor perspective for the October 2015 Interoperability Study, we invited 15 EMR vendors to answer 13 questions. The 10 vendors that participated were the following:
 
Allscripts     athenahealth     Cerner     eClinicalWorks     Epic    GE     Greenway     McKesson   MEDITECH       NextGen Healthcare
 
*RelayHealth and Cerner (Siemens) responded with their respective parent companies.
 
In addition to specifically voting on peers that were most and least effective to work with, the vendors described the toughest industry challenges; rated the potential future benefits of interoperability associations, standards, and initiatives (including FHIR, The Sequoia Project, and CommonWell); and described or listed their most successful interoperable clients. There was great agreement with provider responses on many of the questions, especially on the topics of interoperability issues and obstacles facing the industry.
 
What are you expecting to see as we list the EMR vendors voted the most and least effective to work with by their peers? To be abundantly clear, we must note that one of the ten vendors that participated did not answer this question and left it blank. All of the others answered in some depth, although one vendor simply answered “CommonWell members” as easiest to work with and “non-CommonWell members” as the most difficult. That response appeared to be a more future-focused response since that vendor had no live CommonWell connections as a backdrop.
 
Drum roll, please . . . Epic received four of ten votes as the most effective vendor to connect with, and Greenway was next with two of ten votes. Allscripts, athenahealth, eClinicalWorks, GE, McKesson, and NextGen Healthcare had one vote each, leaving Cerner and MEDITECH with no votes. Epic’s win was a surprise as those competitors with little public affinity for Epic tagged them as effective to work with. One stated, “Epic is technically highly capable and responsive,” and another said, “Epic has established communications protocols.”
 
MEDITECH had five of nine votes as the least effective vendor to work with, while Cerner got three of nine votes. eClinicalWorks had two votes, and Epic and GE each had one. One comment repeated in similar words by three vendors describes MEDITECH’s challenge: “MEDITECH does not support nearly the same level of data exchange or standards as other vendors do.”
 
Does this kind of measurement actually provide new information? We find that it clarifies what was previously an unknown. Perceptions, rumors, media shout-outs, and even EMR vendor presentations that tee up perceptions or outright claims about their competitors can muddy the water so that the truth is lost and emotion based on misinformation plays a role in critical decisions. I thank those vendors that had the courage to anonymously say what is not said publicly.
 
NOTE: Next week we will focus on provider perceptions of EMR vendors that the providers don’t actually work with.