Electronic Health Records

Adoption & Implementation News

How the cloud drove athenahealth from EHR association

By Kyle Murphy, PhD

- The HIMSS EHR Association is losing one of its most prominent members following the decision by athenahealth to part ways with the trade association.

According to comments from Dan Haley, VP of Government Affairs at the cloud-based EHR and practice management (PM) company, on its CloudView Blog, the move comes as a result of philosophical differences among traditional and modern vendors in the EHR marketplace:

At the end of the day, athenahealth left the EHRA because we never really belonged there in the first place. The EHRA was founded in 2004 by a group of EHR software vendors. Today, a decade into the age of cloud technology, the EHRA is still dominated and governed by a group of EHR software vendors.

That is not what we are. athenahealth is neither an EHR company, nor a software vendor. We operate as a services company that offers a cloud-based EHR as just one enabling component of our extensive suite of health IT services. Our public policy priorities are broader and more varied than those of the traditional software vendors that run the EHRA — and even where our priorities overlap, we’re too often on opposite sides of crucially important debates.

Although Haley claims that a single event was not the cause of athenahealth’s resignation from the group, he has highlighted how the differing views about the progress of the EHR Incentive Programs have complicated matters more recently. Earlier this week, athenahealth announced that its participating providers in Stage 1 Meaningful Use pf 2013 had a success rate of 95.4 percent in their attestations.

“athenahealth steadfastly advocates for the aggressive timelines and high standards we believe are necessary to bring health information technology up to the standards of information technology used across the rest of the economy,” he explains. “The EHRA, in contrast, consistently urges slower timelines, delayed deadlines, and lower bars.”

Obviously, the technological approaches of the various EHR companies are responsible for how quickly they are to innovate and roll out solutions and services to customers in a timely and efficient way, and it appears that cloud-based EHR vendors are no longer beholden to advance their cause.

To that end, athenahealth will be pursuing alliances with like-minded and similarly-organized health IT developers. “One might say we’re performing a ‘rip and replace’ on our own outdated trade association,” adds Haley.

In response to athenahealth’s decision, the EHR Association had this to say:

We appreciate athenahealth’s contributions to the work of the EHRA over the years.

With athenahealth offering guarantees for eligible providers in both Stage 1 and Stage 2 Meaningful Use and reportedly having made Stage 2 components available to users in October 2013, the company appears well positioned moving forward. The same cannot be said of some of its former EHR Association partners.

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