The End of Meditech?

"There's no point in acting all surprised about it.  All the planning charts and demolition orders have been on display in your local planning department in Alpha Centauri for fifty of your Earth years, so you've had plenty of time  to lodge any formal complaints and it's far too late to start making a fuss about it now" - Douglas Adams, Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

“There’s no point in acting all surprised about it. All the planning charts and demolition orders have been on display in your local planning department in Alpha Centauri for fifty of your Earth years, so you’ve had plenty of time to lodge any formal complaints and it’s far too late to start making a fuss about it now” – Douglas Adams, Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

Meditech has not been faring well in the news as of late.  One of its larger clients that make up a good portion of Meditech’s HIMSS Stage 7 clients just announced they will be moving to Epic.  LSS Data Systems, still fresh off its full acquisition by Meditech has been targeted in an inaccurate financial reporting incident.  And it seems lately that every new acquisition is being taken by either Epic or Cerner.  I was told early this year that sales were indeed slow at Meditech and LSS from a very reliable source and I know a handful of my previous clients are moving away from either LSS Data Systems or both Meditech and LSS due to organization mergers or just pure unhappiness with the product.  Is this a signal of things to come?

Anyone who has ever worked at Meditech has been told that even if new sales stopped today, Meditech would be able to live off its service fees from existing clients for the next ‘X’ amount of decades.  ‘X’ of course changes based on who is repeating the adage.  But what happens if new sales slow and existing clients start dwindling off?  While I’m confident Meditech will be around for a good number of years to come, I do question whether its future will be even remotely as successful as its past.

Meditech has enjoyed a sizeable market share (Hospital-wise anyway) for a long time and it has built that customer base using technology that many people today call antiquated, clunky, legacy, or any number of other unflattering synonyms.  Meditech software thrived in the pre-internet world where silos of information and disconnectedness was the norm.  This opinion isn’t just off the cuff, even Meditech is acknowledging their existing technology’s lack of relevance in the modern world by betting their future on their new web-based 6.1 product.

Keep in mind, we’re in an industry where the dominant player (Epic) is also using “antiquated” technology based on the same stuff Meditech is (albeit with the foresight of having a relational database to do reporting from) and Cerner, the runner-up, is using slightly newer technology that despite having the phrase “.NET” in its tool set is not exactly what we call modern internet technology.  Athenahealth is really the only major player in the game (mostly because they do a lot of advertising and self-promotion) that uses technology that silicon valley would not laugh at.  And while the vast majority of us agree that Healthcare needs to get shoved at a pretty decent heft into the world of the integrated internet, I don’t think Meditech is in a position to be a major player in that future.

If you’ve ever perused their website, you’d probably have the same doubts.  Here’s a clip from one of their recent news announcements, humorously entitlted: “MEDITECH is in the Cloud”.

MEDITECH’s solutions can be hosted in the cloud, providing service to users across departments, facilities, and locations from any end point. We recently provided access by incorporating HTML front ends to traditionally client-accessible data, bolstered by encrypted security and immediate cache clearing to protect PHI. Moving forward, all of our new applications will be developed specifically for the Web.

“MEDITECH is ready to take healthcare organizations into the future with cloud computing,” says Swanfeldt. “Providers will be able to access their patients’ information from anywhere—which will help them improve collaboration, interoperability, and, most importantly, patient care delivery.”

The term “Cloud” admittedly is somewhat ambiguous in the tech world, but it’s pretty clear that this particular VP doesn’t understand that Meditech software and cloud computing are mutually exclusive terms.  Connecting to legacy software through multiple heavy layers of interfaces and virtual desktops puts a dent in the ethereal lightness of interacting with something in a cloud.  I don’t know, maybe they view themselves as the cumulonimbus of cloud computing.

Now, I’ve heard some decent reviews of their new web-based EHR, but I’ve also seen their web-based patient portal (which can’t handle a browser’s back button) and spent many years on their own website (which insults me when I click a button twice).  Meditech is not quick to adapt to anything.  They still don’t recognize Apple products as something people use even though those are the top devices providers would like to bring into their healthcare organization and use.

However, while Meditech might not be the most agile or adept player in the HIT market, they do certainly have some intelligent business-savvy folks running the place.  The aspect alone is what makes me bet that Meditech will most likely slowly erode over the next few decades instead of just winking out of existence.  Stone statues do not crumble overnight.   Their best bet is to capitalize on their existing market share and embed themselves in those clients as underlying infrastructure technology that all the fancy new stuff can play on top of.

Should be interesting for Meditech consultants though.

2 Responses to “The End of Meditech?”
  1. Scott says:

    All these years and Meditech still has no clue what a relational, normalized database looks like.

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  1. […] C/S code.  Anyway, I’d say this ranking and lack of other awards is bolstering my opinion (stated here) that Meditech should phase into being more of an infrastructure feature instead of coming […]

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