This week's announcement (July 20, 2016 - Canadian Healthcare Technology) that Nightingale Informatix Corp. has entered into a definitive agreement to sell its Canadian assets to Telus Health for a purchase price of $14 million is another indication that the Canadian EMR market is further consolidating.
As the largest EMR company in Canada, Telus Health now has a number of EMR products in its suite of offerings. Each continues to function as a distinct entity under the Telus umbrella and although there have been rumblings of a single universal EMR offering being provided by Telus, this is yet to occur.
While some products may be evidently superior to others and it is expected that there will be an eventual migration to specific products, even within a single company such as Telus, it is highly likely that every product has their own group of highly satisfied users. At CanadianEMR, we see this in the user ratings.
There is a lesson we can learn from countries such as Denmark when it comes to consolidation.
A number of years ago, I talked with one of the lead physicians in the Danish Health IT program about the status of their EMR industry. Denmark is a fully saturated market. In addition, the products available are all able to provide the core functionality that is needed to operate in the Danish healthcare system. As a result there is very little incentive for physicians to migrate from one product to another, even if there is a superior product. The practices have become used to their EMRs and change is extremely disruptive. More important, specific workflows or tweaks to their individual systems have been made over periods of years, leading to some level of customization in each practice. In many cases, their small tweaks have become critical to that specific practice's functioning.
As a result, even in a small market such as Denmark, following consolidation, some vendors continued to manage and support 3 or more EMR products.
However, the difference to Canada is that all of their EMR products are fully inter-operable in that they are able to send and receive messages from one another and national systems. This interoperability is the key.
While it may not be financially viable for a company even the size of Telus Health to support large numbers of EMR products, that is a business decision that will be need to be made.
From a functionality perspective, if we can achieve messaging interoperability between the different EMR systems, in my opinion, that is the most important step we can take towards ensuring seamless care for Canadians.
Thoughts and comments are welcome.