Orthopedic EHR

Usability in the Orthopedic EHR Market

KLAS, through the Arch Collaborative, has collected a large amount of data around the physician user experience with different EHRs. In fact, we’ve been able to break out satisfaction levels by specialty. Of the types of EHR specialties on that list, orthopedics ranks as one of the least satisfied groups.

What makes orthopedics significant? To start with, it’s a core specialty field with arguably one of the largest patient populations out of all the specialty groups.

Interestingly enough – and we’ve confirmed this with several vendors – orthopedics is often one of the first two specialties outside of primary care that vendors expand into. When they started building out their product line the conversation sounded something like, “we’ve got to have family practice, internal medicine, and orthopedics.”

All of this to say that when we’re talking about the dissatisfaction surrounding the orthopedic EHR segment, we’re not talking about some remote tool.  To paraphrase Ron Burgundy: it’s kind of a big deal.

Lending insight to this problem, KLAS just published an orthopedic EHR report. We wanted to shine a light on the major EMR vendors who offer solutions for orthopedics and help providers understand the segment better.

The key question that we asked in the study was, “How would you rate the effectiveness of orthopedic workflows inside your EHR?” In other words, how customized, efficient, or useful are the workflows in your orthopedic EHR?

We further looked for answers to the biggest challenges regarding orthopedics usability. This included asking providers how well their EHR integrates with key components of orthopedic care such as imaging. We took that datapoint, along with several other standard KLAS questions to help round out our view of orthopedic usability.

Uncovering a Few Surprises

As we began to analyze the data, a couple surprises began to stand out. First, the top vendors in the category were specialty EHR vendors, but with lower scores than you’d imagine from a specialty EMR vendor. These Specialty EMR vendors still held high scores, but they were not as high as I expected.

The second surprise was that the low performers in supporting orthopedic workflows were actually the high-performing leaders in the broad ambulatory space. That was very fascinating to me. These unexpected shifts were seen when discussing orthopedic workflow and product functionality, but also customer support.

This was particularly interesting because these vendors historically do very well providing support. In fact, that’s one of the reasons they lead in the broader ambulatory space: they excel at customer relationships. And yet, these vendors’ scores struggled for orthopedics.

There are several drivers behind the dissatisfaction. When you’re talking about a specialty EHR offering from a broad-market vendor, often support is ill-equipped to handle such specific questions. For many orthopedic providers I spoke with, this was a significant driver of their support woes.

It’s a challenge for bigger ambulatory vendors to train a broad-market support system on the details of each specialty they cover. Beyond that, the provider may also be dealing with a product that isn’t fitted to their needs from the get-go.

The natural result of an ill-fitting system is to look for any help you can get. Providers end up calling into support, leading to frustrations with implementation bleeding over into other experience areas

What’s Next in Orthopedics

My advice for providers as they look at the report: take a hard look at the specific data around workflows and usability. We didn’t measure specifically for billing and financial, but you can read between the lines in terms of how well various EHRs accommodate billing specific to orthopedics.

I mention this because some vendors do some really impressive things for billing prompts, coding prompts, and so on. A lot of broad-market EMR vendors don’t push those same kinds of specializations.

A first for KLAS, the Orthopedics Report will shine a light on the landscape of EHR vendors that we haven’t seen before. Providers can look at both small and medium practices versus enterprise platforms – we collected data on Cerner and Epic as well.

This gives providers the opportunity to really dig into what the market offers and make more informed decisions – while better understanding the needs of orthopedic physicians and how EMR workflows impact the care they deliver.