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eClinicalWorks Settlement Leads to Distrust of EHR Vendors

A recent study found over one third of surveyed providers are distrustful of all EHR vendors as a result of the $155 million eClinicalWorks settlement.

EHR Certification

Source: Thinkstock

By Kate Monica

- A recent study investigating provider opinions regarding the eClinicalWorks $155-million settlement found over one third of surveyed providers are more suspicious of all EHR vendors as a result of the lawsuit.

The eClinicalWorks settlement followed allegations that the EHR company had misled consumers regarding its EHR certifications and paid some customers kickbacks in exchange for positive product promotion.

Conducted by the Research Cloud, the study surveyed providers working in ambulatory settings to find out how familiar they are with the settlement and how the events have impacted their perception of eClinicalWorks and the EHR industry as a whole.

Of 113 participants, 81 percent of those surveyed were physicians, 8 percent were CIOs, Operations Managers, CEOs, and Clinical Managers, 5 percent were Practice Administrators, 5 percent were Office Managers, and 1 percent were Directors of Operations.

Researchers found over half of participants in the survey had no idea about the settlement.

Furthermore, 41 percent of surveyed eClinicalWorks customers had not heard anything about the allegations.

While the events were troubling to some, the lawsuit will not have an immediately detrimental effect on eClinicalWorks’ consumer base: only four percent of all surveyed eClinicalWorks consumers intend to terminate their contract early and find a new EHR vendor right away.

Additionally, 22 percent of consumers stated the settlement does not affect their relationship with the company at all, while 15 percent maintained eClinicalWorks has been a good partner and that their loyalty to the vendor will not waver.

“We are still moving from our current platform to eClinicalWorks,” commented one anonymous provider in response to the survey.

While 48 percent of eClinicalWorks customers intend to finish their contracts with the vendor and then re-evaluate their relationship with the company, only 11 percent are certain that they will seek a new EHR vendor when their contract is fulfilled.

Current eClinicalWorks contracts may be largely unaffected, but the settlement will likely have a significant impact on the vendor’s business moving forward.

71 percent of participants stated it is extremely unlikely they will consider working with eClinicalWorks in the future.

The effects of the settlement are far-reaching.

Other EHR vendors will also have to contend with consumer skepticism as a result of the incident, with 27 percent of consumers saying the settlement has decreased confidence in their current vendor.

“Now I wonder about our EHR,” commented one anonymous provider. “They have been certified but it does not seem to meet the requirements for stage 2 nor can I ever meet with anyone to get the program changed to make it more compliant.”

“Not crazy about any of the EHR vendors,” responded another.

Provider suspicion surrounding EHRs will only add to the already dismal reputation the technology has developed in the eyes of some physicians.

Earlier this summer, one physician wrote an op-ed published in the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons stating EHRs have an overall negative impact on patient care delivery and only serve to fulfill the agendas of government entities and corporations.

Deepening distrust in the intentions and legitimacy of EHR vendors will likely perpetuate this belief that widespread EHR purchasing, implementation, and use is not in the best interest of the patient.

However, Vice President of Interoperability at Epic Peter DeVault stated at the recent Value-Based Care Summit that providers can find success with EHR systems by relying less on EHR certifications and more on demonstrated benefits.

Seeing the technology in action, said DeVault, is the best way to find out whether an EHR can deliver on its promises. 

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