KLAS, a healthcare market research firm, recently released a report identifying healthcare providers’ confidence that specific ambulatory EMR software products will meet the Health IT Policy Committee’s proposed 2011 meaningful use standards. Vendors such as Epic Systems, NextGen Healthcare and athenahealth had the highest levels of customer satisfaction. Vendors that were given the least satisfactory ratings by their clients were SRSsoft and Amazing Charts.

In addition to the vendor’s ability in helping healthcare facilities meet the proposed standards with their respective EHR software programs, the report focused on other EMR software concerns of the providers, especially EHR functionality issues. In general, healthcare providers reported concerns with EHR products’ functional abilities to:

•Share clinical data;

•Easily access patient’s medical records; and

•Utilize EHR reporting tools.

“To help their clients meet the substantial reporting requirements for meaningful use, many vendors will need to increase the number and complexity of their canned reports, provide a standalone reporting application or add a third-party tool that can pull the required data,” offered report author Mark Wagner, director of ambulatory research for KLAS.

This report is interesting, and it could be interpreted in several ways. I think it’s important to look at the main purpose of the study, which was to measure healthcare providers’ confidence that their EHR product would meet the meaningful use criteria. It would be more interesting to know if meeting meaningful use criteria was even a goal of these healthcare providers.

 A provider could indicate that he/she is not confident that his/her EHR would meet meaningful use, but if he/she didn’t have goals to meet meaningful use in the first place, this measure of satisfaction is irrelevant. Choosing an EHR – and a ‘successful’ one at that- should not be solely based on whether the product and vendor can meet ‘meaningful use’ criteria. Choosing a product and measuring its ‘successes’ should be based on practice goals, which may or may not include meeting ‘meaningful use’ criteria to obtain EHR adoption incentive payments.