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Intelligent Healthcare Information Integration 10/5/10

October 5, 2010 News 9 Comments

Thanks for Nothing, Glen

Even though I hear that he read it, I now know why Mr. Tullman didn’t bother to respond to a recent blog comment I blurted out a few weeks ago. He and the Allscripts brain trust who now own my favorite EHR have decided that they don’t share my enthusiasm.

After buying up Eclipsys (which, remember, bought up MediNotes which, remember again, bought up Bond Technologies) Allscripts has declared that what I really need is their MyWay product. It is, as they proclaim in their market messaging, The Right EHR.

Thus they are killing off my chosen EHR, Peak Practice, originally known as Bond’s Clinician.

I spent a long time looking for my Right EHR. I had no delusions that I’d found the perfect EHR, but I had found a whole lot of what I value: great people, great interface, great foundation, and a great, technologically future-friendly, architecture. I’d found my Right EHR when I decided to buy Clinician back in 2004-2005.

Since then, despite a horrible name change (Peak Practice – yuk!) it was strong enough to survive two major corporate acquisitions. In fact, it was one of the major reasons for those acquisitions, so I’ve been told. It was apparently not, however, strong enough to survive a third.

Today, I just finished helping pull off a great experience called the Pediatric Office of the Future, an educational exhibit for the 2010 American Academy of Pediatrics National Conference and Exhibition. We showcased all kinds of technology for improving pediatric healthcare delivery. It felt good that we seemed to have conducted a well-received show.

While riding this high, I got blessed with the news of the death sentence for Peak Practice. Talk about a showstopper!

Oh, well. As we used to say back in my rock and roll sound engineering days, “The show? It’s only business.”

Who cares that all that money I spent on my EHR (which I worked very hard to make by actually caring about and for other people) will now be but an ill-remembered poor investment? That I’ll have to retrain a staff who took years to move from almost complete techno-illiteracy to Peak Practice competency? Who cares what some whiny, so-called “grunt in the trenches,” solo doc from nowhere, Ohio, thinks?

I’m just glad that you get to make yourself and your investors more money by killing my EHR.

I’m just glad you’re not silly enough to let go of this great technology to open source or some other company that might care to advance it even further because that might compete against The Right EHR.

I’m just glad I get to tell the lucky winner of the Peak Practice EHR, part of the Office of the Future’s prize drawing today, that their “Woo hoo, I just won a $10,000 prize!” moment was actually just a big “You got punk’d!”

Oh, and, I’m really glad I get to start looking for a company and an EHR that I can believe in again. (that was so much fun the first time…)

So let’s see…

Mr. Bush, do you honestly care as much as you sound like you do? How do you feel about trench grunts? You’re not planning on selling any time soon, are you?

From the sometimes depressingly muddy trenches…

“To build may have to be the slow and laborious task of years. To destroy can be the thoughtless act of a single day.” – Sir Winston Churchill


Dr. Gregg Alexander, a grunt in the trenches pediatrician, directs the “Pediatric Office of the Future” exhibit for the American Academy of Pediatrics and is a member of the Professional Advisory Council for ModernMedicine.com. More of his blather…er, writings…can be found at his blog, practice web site or directly from doc@madisonpediatric.com.

Comments 9
  • Always wondered to whom the “My” in “MyWay” referred…now we know

  • Boy, oh Boy… same song, different chorus….

    With the exception of winning the Pediatric Office of the Future (congratulations!) – I could have written this letter word for word when the ‘merger’ between Misys and Allscripts came to fruition. Our EMR (Misys EMR) is on the outs too.. I feel your pain, and empathize with you, as we’re in the same boat. Man the life preservers!

  • Greg
    You are a true grunt and visionary. I meet you at HIMSS in 2008 while I was with the company that sold you the great EMR from Bond technologies/Eclipsys. All I have to say is watch out for share holders. Private companies have more heart and sole.

    Keep up the good fight. See you in the trenches.

  • Sorry Greg, you’ll have more friends soon. Another poorly done acquisition brought to you by Maserati Jay who left 8M richer for his failures – imagine if that money had that been invested in products or services.

    No surprise big business guys are vision-less and heartless – but why so clueless?. Many execs know about potentially lethal product flaws, what are chances they care about clinicians’ woes?. Phil’s silly story about supporting entire suite of EMRs was BS when he shamelessly spun it but he may be aloof enough to think people believed him – the emperor with lots of money, a charming accent but no clothes.

    Life will go on but great clients are hard to find. Insiders say notably slick master of spin Glen is shallow – he and his team don’t really understand hospital side or integration. Phil never did but parlays his layoff skills into cash. Were investors convinced the market needed another piecemeal system on Powerpoint architecture? We’d hoped for some reasonable competition to keep Epic honest but they must be laughing all the way to the bank.

  • Ouch… sorry to hear, but it will be an increasingly common story. We are in a slightly similar boat as Cerner has sunset their “old” outpatient EMR system (“PowerChart office”) and have everyone migrating over to the standard “PowerChart system”. The good news is that we retain much of the data and we get some new functionality. The bad news is that has meant we have not had anything new in our “old” EMR for several years, we will lose some long-favored functionality with this “upgrade” (but to their credit they are trying to add those back in – just wish we didn’t have to point it out to them).

    I really hope Allscripts will create a good migration plan for you – I assume that they will “port” your data into one of their other EMRs… please keep us up to date as to how they handle this!

  • Dr Alexander:

    You always have interesting commentary. We met shortly after MediNotes acquired the Clinician product you were using (I was part of MN) and how that was a STRATEGIC product for us. You were an enthusiastic but critical user—and I say that in the most constructive way.

    When Eclipsys bought us such a short time later, they represented that the acquisition was “strategic” for the Clinician product (that got renamed “Peak Practice”), but it soon became apparent that it was just “tactical”….really aimed at one LARGE key hospital account that was hanging by a thread because of the ambulatory system shortcomings. When they lost that business anyway a few months later, the lack of strategic positioning left it vulnerable. The purchase by Allscripts may have been related to that very same large KEY account…how does a small practice….Ohio or anywhere else…measure up to such monoliths that the enterprise vendors are after? The future for your product you now hear, seems doomed…and you will forced to another product.

    The root cause here may NOT be that you chose the wrong product…but from a risky vendor. You chose to purchase from a vendor with almost no other install base and reference accounts…because you liked the technology and its hard-working people.

    The enterprise vendors would all LOVE to see the hospitals lure in practices like yours under their umbrella so the vendors don’t have to support all those practices…too much work for too little revenue for them.

    Thats why vendors dedicated to independent practices will always serve you better…the way you mentioned made the difference for you. And the consolidation has probably only begun. There just isn’t a big enough market for close to 400 EMR products to survive in….incentives or not. And if you are forced to change products against your wishes…how disruptive is that…fiscally and productivity-wise?

    Lesson learned for ambulatory practices about to engage on EMR: Choosing your EMR, even for the right reason, can be perilous…so be sure to do it with a vendor who is dedicated to independent practice…and who has the traction as an established player…in your specialty…with lots of successful users in that specialty. The key question might just be: “After the incentives are gone (or not paid out in the first place)…will you be happy with the EMR….and getting what you expected out of it?” If lots of other providers in your specialty aren’t answering enthusiastically “YES” for that product…you might want to keep looking….

  • As usual the greedy men at the top are there dissecting it all and figuring out how to manipulate, abuse and grab every dollar they can. Unfortunately this includes killing a superior product in the name of the almighty bottom line. The sad fact is when they stand up on the podium and preach “We are here to improve patient care” what they are really saying is “We are here to improve profit care”. As with all things American these days, we have corporate morons running companies that are so important to our future. Who loses here, the docs, the patients and all the hard working grunts that really make these companies work? The day we wake up and stop letting wealthy, pompous men with no integrity or heart make decisions that impact this countries health care, is the day we may actually start making “We are here to improve patient care” a reality. Until then, decisions will continue to be made based on GREED. I don’t want to make this political but, it seems that without someone minding the children, they will make poor decisions and these decisions will ultimately hurt others.

  • Dr Alexander, I am sorry to hear about the loss of your EMR. Unfortunatley the problem extends far beyond the walls of your practice. The IT industry developed so quickly that the customary consumer controls are lacking. Software is issued with bugs, glitches, and even more serious problems, and people expect and excuse it. Equipment like printer cartridges fail constantly and are not reusable. Information is not portable – when’s the last time you could get your old emails out of an AOL folder and port them to a Gmail folder? And products are developed and then trashed in the blink of an eye. No other industry that I can think of (in the US at least) permits this level of proprietary non-standardization and broken chain of trust.

  • Hi Gregg-
    This is the “elephant in the room” that all the policy wonks never acknowledge when they say “what are docs waiting for, just get an EMR”. These large EMR companies are going to be on a “buy & shutdown competitor EMR” bonanza with the sales driven by the lure of the HITECH bucks. Some of these companies might behave like the Borg “we will assimilate you, resistance is futile”- given enough market capitalization, why wouldn’t they?
    I agree that it will be very interesting to see what the migration path is…
    What works well for one docs’ brain may not work well for another.
    We have had tremendous success with our “best of breed” hybrid EMR from SRSsoft and pediatric practice management system from PCC. The future ought to be open, and we ought to be able to assemble the EMR/patient information management system that makes the most sense for our practices. What a peds neurology practice needs can be very different from a concierge practice with 15 patients a day vs. busy country pediatrics with 40 a day in winter.
    Why pretend one size fits all? It doesn’t anywhere else!
    I just sent out 52 robocalls for all my diabetic patients who are not transferred/transient/deceased, no flu vax this season, no appt on the schedule in the next 1 month for 9 cents a call- and that report took 15 seconds to run… There are lots of ways to get to quality care that don’t involve doctor data entry…..

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