Having one EHR vendor is best for patient care, study finds

Using a single EHR vendor is optimal for patient care, a study by researchers at the University of Notre Dame and University of South Carolina found.

When hospitals purchase all their EHR components from a single supplier, patients receive better evidence-based care, according to the study to be published in an upcoming edition of Decision Sciences. When there are multiple vendors involved, data exchange isn't as efficient, as conditions are often coded differently in different EHRs.

"Even though there are industry efforts to help translate key concepts between components that are sourced from different suppliers to improve interoperability, competing EMR firms have little incentive to get their systems to work and communicate with competitor systems," said Corey Angst, PhD, a Notre Dame professor of IT, analytics and operations, in a Nov. 10 university news release.

Studying hospital data from 2006 to 2013, the researchers found that as facilities got closer to single sourcing their conformance quality improved — through the positive effect decreased over time.

"Administrators must consider how the number of different suppliers affects routines, interoperability (the capability of two different components to receive and send data) and, ultimately, conformance quality," stated lead author Kaitlin Wowak, PhD, an associate professor of IT, analytics and operations at Notre Dame.

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