A new KLAS report surveying customer reactions to the eClinicalWorks $155 million settlement with the Department of Justice (DOJ) found that only 4 percent of customers plan to find a replacement EHR as a result of the settlement.
While 66 percent of respondents stated their perception of the vendor worsened following the settlement, few actually intend to leave as a result.
The lawsuit settled allegations that eClinicalWorks had made false claims regarding the certification of its EHR technology and paid some customers kickbacks in return for positive product promotion.
Respondents to the KLAS survey included CIOs, directors, managers, and physicians from both clinics and large health systems.
While nearly two-thirds of the vendor’s customers stated their perception of the company had worsened, only 26 percent said their perception had worsened significantly. Forty percent said their perception was only moderately affected.
“About one-fifth describe the settlement using words like ‘unsurprising,’ indicating that their personal concerns about the vendor’s ethics and business practices have now been confirmed,” wrote KLAS authors. “Some question the company’s long-term viability. Others are more tempered, saying that the revelation of eClinicalWorks’ behavior is just one more negative in a string that includes a decrease in support over the past few years.”
Thirty-two percent of respondents said the eClinicalWorks settlement had no impact whatsoever on their feelings toward the company, and 2 percent stated their perception of the company had improved following the settlement.
“While most users now view eClinicalWorks more negatively than they did previously, a small subset feel the increased governmental oversight will cause the vendor to improve the customer experience and make things better in the long run,” the survey authors wrote.
Regardless of changes in perception among the eClinicalWorks userbase, the settlement itself appears to have a negligible effect on whether customers will seek a replacement EHR.
Only 4 percent of customers reported seeking a replacement EHR due to the settlement.
Thirty-five percent are keeping eClinicalWorks and report being satisfied with the technology, while 24 percent said they intend to replace eClinicalWorks due to reasons other than the settlement.
This reportedly diminutive loss in consumer base mirrors a similar study earlier this month, showing only 11 percent of responding eClinicalWorks users are confident they will seek a new EHR vendor when their contract is fulfilled.
According to KLAS, eClinicalWorks customers can be divided into thirds in regards to future plans with the vendor: one-third of customers plan to leave for various reasons, another third would like to leave but feel stuck in their contracts, and the remainder are satisfied with the company and plan to stay.
“The final third are satisfied with their overall experience; they feel the announcement has relatively little impact on them as they have already qualified for meaningful use money or think eClinicalWorks is just the first of many vendors that will come under scrutiny,” wrote KLAS.
Despite the settlement, eClinicalWorks has been the third most-selected and the fourth most-considered EHR in the first half of 2017.
However, KLAS reported initial indications point to a potential drop in customers considering eClinicalWorks as a replacement EHR.
Submitted feedback from responding customers reflected polarized opinions regarding eClinicalWorks, the impact of the settlement, and the company’s ability to forge ahead and continue progressing in the industry.
Some believe eClinicalWorks is just the first vendor to get caught and that the settlement will lead to positive growth for the company and serve as an example for others.
“I believe that the settlement will actually make eClinicalWorks a stronger company moving forward,” said one respondent. “I feel that multiple other vendors are likely guilty of similar issues that were described in the settlement. I feel that eClinicalWorks will be able to maintain their position as a healthcare leader.”
Another respondent wrote that eClinicalWorks was “in the unlucky position of being first.”
“What happened to them is a shot across the bow by the feds to the industry as a whole,” the respondent added. “Other EHR vendors will have negative findings against them in the future as well.”
However, others believe the settlement will have lasting negative effects and consider the lawsuit a black mark against the vendor that will be hard to erase.
“I am beyond disappointed with eClinicalWorks,” said one respondent. “We have struggled with their performance. Their support has been extremely lackluster, and they are behind on their development.”