CMS just released the December 2012 attestation data, and one thing is abundantly clear—many EHR vendors will not be around to see Stage 2.
Of the 472 EHR vendors offering certified “Complete EHRs” in early 2012, many lacked even a single physician who had attested to meaningful use by the end of the year. And while it is not surprising that large vendors dominate the EHR market, they do so to a far greater extent than the 80/20 rule would predict. The top 24 EHR companies (just 6% of the 392 ambulatory EHRs with attestations) account for 80% of the total attestations to date—only 19 companies have delivered over 1,000 attestations and only 32 have exceeded 500. At the other end of the spectrum, 112 of the vendors produced only 1 to 5 attestations and a full 252 report 50 or fewer.
So what does this mean for the future? Consider why so many vendors have so few attestations. It could be that they are small companies, new to the market, with limited revenue, resources, and staffing—which suggests they likely lack the significant development resources required to meet the increasingly complex certification requirements of Stages 2 and/or 3. Or it could be that their software is challenging to use and their physicians were unsuccessful at demonstrating meaningful use. In either case, these vendors will not survive in the long run—if lucky, they will be acquired by one of the large vendors. The survivors will most likely be those who have already established themselves in the top tier, and whose physicians experience only minimal disruption in the process of satisfying the government’s requirements. Was it the intention of CMS and ONC to force market consolidation? Or is the demise of small, innovative EHR companies an unintended consequence of the complexity of the EHR incentive program?