How Much for Your EMR? Commoditization of EMR

In Economics, a commodity (Wikipedia) is a marketable item produced to satisfy wants or needs. Commoditization occurs as a goods or services market loses differentiation across its supply base, often by the diffusion of the intellectual capital necessary to acquire or produce it efficiently. So, has the EMR software market now effectively been commoditized?

The answer will depend on who you ask.

Let’s look at it from a Provider’s (Small Practice) perspective. It will also depend on why someone is considering EMR software. There are two classes of buyers:

  1. Those who have used EMR software and want to switch because they are not happy.
  2. Those who are considering EMR software for the first time.

Providers buying EMR software for the first time don’t see subtle differences in technology, value, and effectiveness. They don’t see the differences between vendors. ‘All EMRs are the same‘ – I’ve heard this phrase so many times it is not even funny. For this group, EMR software is a commodity.

On the other hand, Providers that want to switch because they are not happy. They know exactly what to look for, what works, what does not, and how to differentiate between vendors. They are looking for unique attributes that produce better value.

Even if the systems you evaluate seem to have similar ‘features’, each system handles workflow differently.

  • Will a system help you create a better workflow for your practice and become more efficient?
  • Will your vendor help you implement the system for efficiency? If vendors won’t, perhaps their re-sellers will.

There is unfortunately so much pricing pressure that vendors can’t afford to give lots of extra services. Vendors are going for ‘volumes’ of practices.

Re-sellers build their business on the Services Model. They want your business and they want that you will recommend them to your peers and colleagues. This is what creates a true win-win situation. Get into the spirit of ‘partnership’ with Re-seller.

What about pricing?

I know pricing can be an important factor. But step back for a minute – is it really that much of a factor? The difference between the system you want and the other EMR is perhaps $200 per month maximum. This is less than $10 a day. If a system makes you slog for 15 minutes more every day, you’ve just lost more than $10. In the bigger scheme of things, that $200 in higher fees will give you multiples back in return.

Bottom Line

Buy EMR software on value, not pricing. You should try to get more value, support, and services rather than negotiate pricing unless it is absolutely ridiculously priced.

Author: Chandresh Shah

Chandresh Shah specializes in Healthcare IT and Medical Billing. He knows the market inside out; what works, what doesn’t. He advises and works with small business owners.