Remember those old sword-and-sandal historical epics, with their "cast of thousands" hacking and clubbing at each other in hand-to-hand combat?
To the hordes of vendors of electronic health-record systems designed for office-based physicians, those struggles may seem like halcyon days.
Three-hundred-and-thirty-three vendors of complete EHRs for ambulatory care have battled for market share and had at least one customer attest to having met the meaningful-use criteria under the Medicare EHR incentive payment program, according to a federal database.
Such a wide variety of choices makes the task of finding and selecting the right system a struggle for the practitioners, too.
"Really, what I need is just somebody to tell me what I need to get," said Dr. Terri Strassburger, who is retired from her own practice but manages a two-physician pulmonary and critical-care office-based practice in Alexandria, Va., for her husband and his partner. Her duties include helping them pick an EHR system.
By waiting a bit to enter the fray, Strassburger and her husband can avail themselves to data on what has worked for others. Some of that is data about their peers who have used various EHR systems to meet the meaningful-use goals established through the Medicare EHR incentive payment program. The information can be gleaned from a database that is a mix of CMS statistics on attested meaningful users and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information official list of certified EHR systems.
According to the federal data, from April 2011 through August of this year, 90,295 physicians and other eligible professionals working in ambulatory care have used complete EHRs to attest to having met the Medicare meaningful-use criteria. (Data from the Medicaid EHR incentive programs is not yet available from the states.)
The top 10 vendors in the CMS/ONC database account for 68% of attestations in the physician and EP/ambulatory/compete EHR market niche, but that leaves the remaining 323 vendors sharing nearly one-third of the attesting providers.