As providers continue to seek ways to do more with fewer resources, the limited hardware expenses, ease of use and growing confidence in cloud storage continue to make software-as-a-service (SaaS) tools more enticing, according to a May report from market researcher KLAS.
“The SaaS EMR deployment model is becoming more popular for providers who want minimal up-front cost and the burden of maintenance lifted from them,” the report stated. “Luckily for providers, there are plenty of good options. The four vendors that are consistently delivering intuitive, fast-moving services that offer high-ranking support and high value per dollar spent are athenahealth, CureMD, MIE and Practice Fusion.”
Orem, Utah-based KLAS spoke with 290 healthcare providers currently using a SaaS EMR to understand which vendors offer the most comprehensive product. Providers identified four key areas that differentiated the vendors: EMR response time, customer support, product quality and bang for the buck.
Providers reported that in the SaaS environment, workflow efficiency is dependent on the system response time (loading time between clicks and browser screen refreshes). “Loading times depend on a combination of hardware, software and internet provider performance. If the connections are all performing well, the provider may never notice load times while documenting; however, if any one (or all) of those connections is performing poorly, it is evident,” the report noted.
According to the report, frequent software updates and feature enhancements equal more potential for glitches. In these situations, the quality and speed of vendor support ultimately determine the delivery of patient care.
“Out-of-the box useability and overall product quality are important in the SaaS model because the ability to customize the EMR is limited,” the report noted. “These EMR systems can be up and live within minutes. A high quality product that is easy to use right out of the box is crucial to a provider’s EMR success.”
A providers’ capability to avoid hardware and maintenance costs lowers the entry price point for SaaS products, the report added.
“When looking to purchase a SaaS EMR system, providers need to take into account their own feelings toward off-site data storage and possible unplanned outages and avoid EMRs that have weak spots that could obscure the benefits of SaaS EMR,” the report concluded.