Wednesday, June 9, 2010

EHRs: It’s Business, But…

Here we go again! Over the past two years, I’ve discovered a new least favorite phrase: “So, what does this acquisition mean for my EHR?”

I started with Eclipsys’ PeakPractice back in the days of yore when it was Bond Technologies’ “Clinician.” In fact, I was one of their earliest adopters. I lived through the February ’08 acquisition by MediNotes and was a little less “plussed” when later that fall MediNotes itself was acquired by Eclipsys. (’08 became dubbed “The Year of the Acquisitions” by Clinician devotees.) Clinician was redubbed “PeakPractice” by Eclipsys. (I personally preferred “Apollo” or “Solstice” or some other thematically consistent, astronomically-related name, but what do I know?)

Now, about a year and a half later, just when it was really feeling as if the solar dust was settling, here we go again playing “Owner, owner, who’s now the owner” with the Allscripts acquisition of Eclipsys announced this morning. Two to three years ago, I remember talking with some good industry folks about the coming deluge of acquisitions, mergers, and vendor disappearances coming in the EHR vendor world, but, boy, oh, boy, I never thought that lightening would hit my home so many times so often in so short a time!

Over the years, I‘ve grown quite fond of many of the folks behind this product. They have been “berry, berry good to me.” So don’t get me wrong: I’m not looking to bite the hands I feed. (Yes, I remember that I paid them, not vice versa.) But, despite my concerns for both my friends there and for the going forwardness of my current EHR, I’d like to offer a bit of advice to Phil Pead and Glen Tullman. (Maybe I should now alter that billing to Tullman and then Pead.)

Guys, I trust (or hope and pray) that you’re going to do right by Clinician…er…PeakPractice…er, whatever the new Allscripts tag may be. But, I listened to your webcast this morning and reviewed all the web sites and press releases. I understand that public companies have a responsibility to their shareholders and that, even with privately held companies, business is business. Still, we are dealing here with one of the most intimate of issues: people’s healthcare and its delivery. From the small end user’s perspective, I found the preponderance of information about the financials and the relative dearth of information about the actual, specific plans for the healthcare delivery tools somewhat disheartening. Goodness, I could barely even find a reference to PeakPractice in all of the available info. (One slide on the webcast, I think, mentioned it.) If you were selling hamburgers, I wouldn’t much care about the plans for mustard or special sauce. But, having been there before…and before…this has a huge potential impact on my practice, my patients, and what’s left of my general state of mind.

I was really glad to see the attention to the open Helios platform, very forward-thinking, I think. And, from my little viewpoint, I think this whole deal could end up as a good move all round. (He said, hopefully.) But, please, guys, remember this ain’t burgers and fries you’re vending.

Maybe these repeated buy-ups are an indication of Clinician’s strengths. Maybe PeakPractice will acquire some of the better parts and pieces of Allscripts products. Maybe I’m just getting "acquisi-dizzy," but I’d really just like to even out this rollercoaster EHR ride for a while!

From the dizzying trenches…

“Anxiety is the dizziness of freedom.” - Soren Kierkegaard

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