Gartner Ranks the Records Vendors

Although seven major vendors of enterprisewide computer-based patient records systems all are making progress, only two have reached “third generation” status, which represents no change since 2005, according to a new report from Gartner.

The Stamford, Conn.-based consulting firm determined in 2005 that the records systems from Epic Systems Corp. and Cerner Corp. had achieved third-generation status, and since then, none of the five other companies it tracks have reached this status, says Barry Hieb, M.D., research director. To achieve this status, vendors must have clients that are out of the testing phase and actually using all aspects of the advanced software, he explains.

The most significant differences between second-generation and third-generation systems are decision support capabilities, workflow components and the use of a common medical vocabulary, Hieb says. “In our next study in 12 to 18 months, we expect several more companies will move to generation three,” Hieb says.

Based on their “ability to execute” their software in the real world, Gartner now ranks the companies in the following order: Epic, Cerner, Medical Information Technology Inc. (Meditech), Eclipsys Corp., McKesson Healthcare Systems, GE Healthcare and Siemens Corp.

The companies have very similar rankings on their “vision” for the capabilities of a records system, Hieb says. “In a few years, functionality won’t be the differentiator, but rather service and support.”

Electronic records systems are an essential element in the movement toward evidence-based medicine, which is key to improving the quality of care while controlling costs, the consultant says.

Hieb made his comments November 13 at the Gartner Healthcare Summit 2007 in Miami.

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