How EMR companies are pivoting

Like most companies in the IT world, EMR (electronic medical record) companies are pivoting in a big way. These EMR companies started out by providing software licenses, some even sold with the hardware on which the software would run. For example, EMR companies partnered with data center product manufacturers to provide customers with a solution bundle. While this go-to-market strategy worked for some time, it is becoming irrelevant. An increasing number of hospitals and healthcare systems are focused on moving away from on-premise data centers and moving to a cloud hosted model.

Epic Systems, one of the world’s largest EMR companies, is struggling to maintain relevance. According to an article  published by the Harvard Business Review, Epic has been widely recognized as a leader with some of the best software products available on the market, according to numerous industry polls. However, in the long-run, Epic will lose because of its failure to stay abreast of digital innovation.

“There are two strategic decisions Epic has made that critically weaken the strength of its product,” writes Wei Wei Liu. “One is its slow move to the cloud.” The author suggests the second reason is because “Epic has failed to adequately pursue interoperability between its system and other EMR systems.”

A couple of the bigger EMR vendors have gotten a leg up on Epic Systems by building out dedicated private clouds, enabling hospitals to access and host EMR applications in these private clouds. Many of my customers have innovated and pivoted to deliver this service model.

What’s next?

Now, we are seeing hospitals using subscription cloud hosting model for EMR and also taking it a step further and taking over all their apps in a cloud hosted way. The reality is that AWS and Azure are taking over that space, but healthcare and hospitals will be the last to go that route–especially for EMR.

Although the EMR market leaders are now signing BAAs and HIPPA compliant, the mistrust is still there. The big EMR vendors are already hosting the hospitals patient data, so why not go for all the other ancillary items as well?

Now, the big EMR companies are acting like AWS, Azure and the like, who have platforms such as DR as a service, test dev as a service, archiving as service and so on.

But what about the smaller hospitals and healthcare systems?

The big bed hospital systems keep trucking along with their own buying power and big data centers, while the rural hospitals struggle to keep up with their Data Centers, going to someone else to host and there are no economies of scale.

The other differentiation is that EMR companies are open to share their technology backbone with you that provides this which can make hospitals relate to their “mysterious cloud” and understand the concepts to make the decision makers of hospitals more at ease.

My prediction is that you will see less and less data centers (or closets in some case) at these rural hospitals and that these hospitals will become a true adopter of service models. My other guess is that these same EMR companies many years down the road will move from this model to a cloud brokering model for larger companies like AWS and Azure.

I’ve already witnessed this with one of our large EMR customers. This customer is trying to look at the future in becoming more relevant for hospitals by looking at true public cloud for all workloads. They will layer their medical solutions on top of the big DC providers and be a broker like you may have for your telecom.

Keeping all of this in mind, it is an exciting time to be in healthcare IT and the transformations here will only get greater! Pivot on!

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