How will MEDITECH support customers’ evolution?
The company’s technology is evolving, and new capabilities will enable customers to deal with emerging healthcare environments.
Late last year, I attended MEDITECH Live, a conference that brought senior MEDITECH client leadership together to share ideas on how best to serve its patient base. Having never been to a MEDITECH event, I looked forward to meeting this customer base and learning more about their challenges and use of MEDITECH.
It was an eclectic group. At times, I thought I had stepped into a time machine – something that was reinforced on several occasions during the couple of days of this event.
MEDITECH’s customers, by and large, are smaller community hospitals – often in rural areas. These organizations live on very tight margins, with many receiving much of their funding via Medicaid, which pays some of the lowest reimbursement rates in the country. This both fosters creative, low-cost approaches to delivering care – tapping community services – but often, demonstrates a dated view on the market and the broader changes that are afoot.
While I have been to countless events, the attention paid to social determinants of health (SDoH), while growing, still often feels like lip service. Not true for this customer group – there were several sessions on this issue at MEDITECH Live – all well attended. If I were to look anywhere for best practices on addressing SDoH and the engagement of community resources, it would be this group.
But when someone begins to explore how these clients are addressing the rise of consumerism and creating experiences for patients more akin to other consumer-centric apps, this client base is the last place I’d look for guidance; it felt like the Middle Ages. In one session I attended, a panelist asked the audience who had a front door to care strategy – not a single hand went up.
In that same session, clients were asked if they currently allow patients access to their patient records, and this time, only a few hands went up. As this is a regulatory rule that was part of meaningful use, you have to wonder if they are really that far behind the rest of the market, or does this audience simply not know these details? It’s puzzling.
In speaking to one MEDITECH product leader, I asked him about this seeming lack of knowledge in their user base and how it affects his ability to chart a product roadmap. He stated it was difficult, as these clients rarely articulate what their top priorities are. And without a hierarchy of priorities, where do you start?
How MEDITECH is leading
In the recent past, it appeared that MEDITECH was nearly as moribund as its clients. This is not the truth today.
The company is turning the corner with a fairly new leadership team comprised of nearly all women. In speaking briefly with vice chairman Howard Messing, he was extremely proud of this new leadership team and hoped it would become a model for other companies. Hats off to you, Howard, Neil and other members of the board for this bold and exciting move.
Outside of leadership, MEDITECH is the first major acute care EHR company to offer a fully cloud-hosted EHR in “Expanse.” Epic only recently launched their cloud EHR, and for Cerner, it will likely be another 18 to 24 months before they go live on Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI).
MEDITECH has also been working quite closely with Google Health to embed Care Studio into the MEDITECH ecosystem. And MEDITECH is pushing forward in addressing precision medicine by bringing genomics data into Expanse. Along these lines, it was of some interest that one of the keynote speakers at this event was Vivian Lee, the CEO of Alphabet’s Verily, which is very much focused on the life sciences market. I would not be surprised if MEDITECH continues adding features for precision medicine via solutions built by Verily.
Some final thoughts
In the past, I saw MEDITECH simply as a company living off its past and doing little to secure its future. That view has changed in recent years, as MEDITECH has made great strides to push forward and truly become competitive in the market. Honestly, it had to; both Epic and Cerner have headed down market into MEDITECH’s turf to drive sales and increase market share.
Even so, I still see MEDITECH in the chrysalis stage, having not completely broken out of its encasement as a company that is a distant follower to advances taking place. Yes, there are cracks in that chrysalis, but it remains to be seen what will come forth. Will it be but a moth? Or can it turn into a butterfly?
If MEDITECH relies solely on its customer base to provide guidance, likely a moth. However, it appears that the new leadership team at MEDITECH is one willing to take chances and lead its customers forward. If that remains the case, a butterfly will blossom.
John Moore is founder and managing partner of Chilmark Research.