Blogs like this one and start-ups such as EHRtv, which offers “comprehensive video analysis of the EHR and PHR industry”, were created with one purpose in mind – to help physicians and healthcare administrators compare and contrast EHR solutions. 

As an industry still in its infancy, that is about to explode thanks to the stimulus, vendors and end users alike are clamoring for valid methods for direct comparison between solutions. The yet to be “certified” “certifying” body CCHIT has been the de facto method of comparing one vendors EHR product to another. 

But there are many who feel the CCHIT certification, which is based on specific parameters of functionality – is too flawed to be used as a “seal of approval” for all EHRs.

The main gripe with CCHIT is that the more than 500 functions an EHR is required to perform to receive certification are not used in practice by many medical specialties. Thus many EHR solutions that have been designed as specialty specific products, could never receive CCHIT certification. Many industry professionals agree that “meaningful use” as described by the HITECH Act is better shown as a measure of “user friendliness”- and that EHRs are better compared by degrees of “usability,” rather than functionality. 

Illinois based research and consulting firm User Centric, is taking its expertise in comparing products based on “usability” – and offering its services to the EHR industry. The company has launched the first syndicated user performance research designed to provide end-users with real data on the usability of EHR applications. In a company press release Gavin Lew, Founder and Managing Director. Of User Centric said, “This is the opportunity for those vendors who claim to be ‘user friendly’ or ‘easy to use’ to independently verify that claim against other vendors.” The company believes that its proven track record in user research and user interface analysis and design, makes them ideally suited to measure and evaluate the end-users experience with EHRs and EMRs. 

The company does not expect its analysis to serve as a replacement for CCHIT data – but to be used in conjunction with it, to give clinicians the complete picture based on real world experiences.The service is fee-based to offset costs, and all subscribing vendors will receive an extensive report on the user performance of their application.