Risk Management & Open EHR Solutions

As reported in a recent article in the online Fierce Health IT magazine, "Financial issues for a software company could result in medical procedures going unscheduled and needy patients going without beds at a hospital across the pond, providing a cautionary tale for U.S. hospitals about the importance of vendor selection." There are some real risks to be considered when choosing an electronic health record (EHR) system for your organization.

According to the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONCHIT) web site, there are 1,049 EHR products now certified (that's hard for me to imagine).  That does not guarantee that the companies and the products they are offering are risk free.

You can find a lot of small and mid-sized companies today selling EHR systems and other health IT solutions to hospitals, clinics, and physician offices. Over time, there is a real risk that a fair number of these will not survive in this rough and tumble marketplace. If the company you bought your product from goes under, switching to a new vendor and moving your data to a new system can be a costly, time consuming, and troublesome process. One of the many arguments for major 'open source' health IT solutions is that there is community of users, developers, and multiple vendors supporting the product that you can turn to when needed. If you want to reduce your risk when choosing an EHR system, you should seriously consider choosing a larger company with a good track record over time OR go with a major open source solution like OpenEMR, OSCAR, OpenMRS, or VistA.

Have you lived through an experience where your health IT vendor went bankrupt or support for its product was discontinued? Tell us about it.