Feature: Top 20 Best in KLAS report finds providers disappointed by IT solutions

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The 2009 Top 20 Best in KLAS Awards report, released Dec. 14, found that the highest-performing software market segment was enterprise scheduling and the lowest was ambulatory EMR. In professional services, the highest-performing market segment was planning & assessment and the lowest was IT outsourcing.

The annually published report--which ranks healthcare IT software and services vendors that the Orem, Utah-based company tracks in 109 market segments--offers both software and professional service information. The survey utilized a 100-point scale, with 70 percent being based on average scores from the performance indicators and 30 percent being based on average scores from business indicators, with each question weighted equally.

In an interview, KLAS President Adam Gale noted a significant drop in vendor satisfaction rates among middle- to large-sized healthcare facilities (over 25 physicians) in the 2009 ambulatory clinical segment, compared with last year.

Gale said that as physicians are putting more energy into employing software into their practices and making their medical records electronic, the people purchasing those products are becoming more frustrated with the vendors.

He explained that most providers showed a "significant decrease in satisfaction” with "just about every vendor" in this segment.

While it is not clear what the cause is for the declining satisfaction rates, Gale noted that there could be issues with maintaining enough staff to support client needs as well as the difference between normal buyers versus early buyers.  “An early buyer is probably more willing to put up with technology glitches and functionality that may not be as easy to use as it needs to be.  [However] people today expect a mature market where the products work,” said Gale.

Another area of disappointment Gale noted was within the cardiology segment. “Of all the vendors that are in this space [between eight and 10] that we measure, not one of them got an above average grade. No vendor stands out as a really great home run or a clear win,” he said.

Despite the results of this year’s report, Gale commented on positive trends and strengths that were found this year.

The field of acute-care core clinical systems experienced progress this year, which Gale believes to be due to the vendors’ improved communication with the customer base.

“We saw just about every vendor in that space show reasonable improvement this year,” said Gale.  “[The vendors] are letting [the customers] see what the roadmap is, what version they need to get and what version is going to come out.”

According to Gale, much of the improvement within this field can be attributed to a change in communication, rather than a change in product offerings.  He also confirmed that a number of vendors in this segment are conducting assessments in terms of where each hospital stands in reaching the meaningful use standards for 2011.

Remote hosting was a trend that Gale views as becoming a larger player for 2010. “We are seeing more energy around getting the products remote hosted- whether that’s in the acute care and ambulatory space,” he said.

Noting that hosted solutions can be a challenge, Gale said, “If you can take that headache off of the physician’s plate, it would be a big win. It seems like that is being focused on from a number of vendors.”