The recent class action suit against Allscripts by physicians raises the question of whether we can expect to see more lawsuits against EHR vendors. The news also raises other issues such as what docs should do to ensure they end up with a great EHR.
In late 2012, a group of physician practices launched a class-action lawsuit against Allscripts on behalf of 5,000 physicians who purchased MyWay, an EHR sold by a subsidiary of Allscripts. The system was sold beginning in 2009 until its discontinuation in late 2012, and the physicians claim that Allscripts misled them about the software's functionality and quality, and failed to adequately remedy the product's alleged defects, American Medical News reported. A spokeswoman from Allscripts told Physicians Practice the company does not speak publicly about pending litigation.
The class-action suit wouldn’t be the first time physicians wanted their money back after investing in an EHR. According to our 2013 Annual Technology Survey, Sponsored by ZirMed, 14 percent of nearly 1,200 physicians and practice managers said they are either “dissatisfied” or “very dissatisfied” with their EHR.
While there are no surefire guarantees to EHR bliss, Jim Tate, president of EMR Advocate, told Physicians Practice there is still a lot physicians can learn from this particular experience.
The biggest lesson, perhaps, is that “there is no safety in going with a ‘big name’ vendor that has grown by buying up other EHRs,” he said.
“No large vendor wants to support and continue to develop numerous EHRs all targeting the same market,” said Tate. “At some point the business decision will be made to ‘sunset’ some EHRs and the physicians have little leverage short of litigation for damages.”
Health IT consultant Bruce Kleaveland said it’s important to carefully manage both the selection and implementation process for an EHR. Additionally, it’s important to understand key elements of the contract regarding resolution of problems and performance requirements of the EHR.
“A practice should understand what will happen if things start going wrong,” said Kleaveland.
At the very least, Kleaveland suggests practices do the following:
1. Carefully vet vendors through a formal organized process.
2. Reference check with trusted colleagues or local sources whenever possible. “Ideally you should use reference sources not provided by the vendor,” said Kleaveland.
3. Organize the practice leadership and staff to manage the implementation of the EHR.
4. Select low-risk vendors, or those with a strong local installed base, extended track record of success and sustainability, and a focused product strategy.