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Customer Loyalty to EHR Systems Declines to 75% in 2016

The 2016 Black Book survey on inpatient EHR systems revealed that overall customer loyalty to current EHR vendors has declined since last year.

By Jacqueline LaPointe

Loyalty to inpatient EHR vendors decreased from 81 percent to 75 percent in 2016, according to a recent Black Book Inpatient EHR survey.

As the healthcare community seeks new innovations in EHR systems, cloud capabilities, and interoperability, healthcare providers are evaluating their inpatient EHR vendors for technological progress, EHR replacement, and meaningful use requirements.

Black Book surveyed 3,152 hospital EHR users and 640 healthcare IT leaders to find out about customer loyalty to current EHR vendors.

The poll asked participants about their intentions to continue with their current contracts, buy additional services and products, like health information exchange, population health tools, and revenue cycle management, and the likelihood of the participant recommending their current vendor to peer hospitals.

Researchers found that overall customer loyalty has declined since 2015. Almost a quarter of the participants felt their customer loyalty was based on administrative directives and capital investments rather than actual satisfaction, usability, and product availability.

Out of 15 vendors, seven were assessed as top risk, which indicated that clients are planning on finding or actively finding a new EHR system vendor.

On the other hand, some participants felt most loyal to their current inpatient EHR systems.

For client satisfaction, Allscripts, Cerner, and Evident/CPSI were ranked as the top vendors. Epic Systems came in seventh.

“Allscripts, Cerner and Evident/CPSI are scored best in the four previous years among their respective hospital client categories,” said Doug Brown, President of Black Book. “With the added loyalty index and the extensive survey on next generation EHR solutions, it is notable that these same vendors have again emerged as the industry top performers in usability and functionality.”

The poll also showed that the Allscripts, Cerner, Evident/CPSI, and athenahealth had the highest increases year-over-year in brand loyalty.

Cerner also received the top ranking for functionality and usability by hospital nurses and physicians.

Additionally, Black Book polled participants on how their current inpatient EHR vendors fair with desirable functions, including interoperability, cloud capabilities, patient engagement tools, mobile optimization, security enhancements, population health and big data support, revenue cycle management support, and technical assistance.

Overall, the top ranking vendors were Allscripts, athenahealth, Cerner, and McKesson.

According to the survey, the cloud-based inpatient EHR solutions from athenahealth and eClinicalWorks were the top ranking replacement interests for smaller hospitals.

Black Book intends to help healthcare providers choose the right EHR system, especially when an organization decides to seek a new vendor. The survey emphasized customer loyalty as an important factor in decision-making.

“Customer loyalty has emerged as one of the most reliable metrics because of its forward looking nature,” explained Brown. “Using a customer loyalty metric to complement historical metrics such as sales, profitability, operational metrics and satisfaction key performance indicators helps hospitals and physicians make better decisions based on customer insights.”

Customer loyalty is not merely based on repeat purchases, stated the report. Black Book designed the customer loyalty section to account for elements of behavioral and attitudinal loyalty.

“For example, a client whose customers have both high behavioral and attitudinal loyalty are different from those customers who are loyal because of capital investments in the EHR, but feel trapped,” said Brown. Customers who feel stuck in their EHR system can follow a downward decision making path towards eventual defection.  Highly loyal customers buy more IT products and service solutions as the EHR vendor adds more sources of revenue for the client.”

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