Marked movement in medical software market

Practice management software vendor MediRecords was in the news this week when we revealed on Wednesday that it had picked up the contract to replace the now unsupported practiX for Queensland Health in a deal worth about $1 million over five years.

MediRecords managed to secure the contract in front of 13 other bidders in what was a hotly contested exercise, and while $1m is not a huge amount in the scheme of things, it will be warmly welcomed by MediRecords, which hasn't had as big an impact on the market that it originally hoped for when it launched in mid-2016.

We fondly remember being told at the time by one proud fan that the big two general practice market leaders in Best Practice and MedicalDirector would “fall off a cliff” within two years as neither had made a move to the cloud, where all the action was apparently. That cliff looks more like a small divot right now but it's good to see a competitive market developing to keep everyone on their toes.

The big two have always had competitors in the likes of practiX, Zedmed and Medtech of course, but it's noticeable that most general practices seem reluctant to change their vendor. We were pondering this just this week when we read a report that up to 30 per cent of medical practices in the US were likely to replace their PMS within three years.

The article brought to mind our story from last week about ProCare, the big Auckland primary health organisation (PHO) that is running a review of the PMSs its 177 practices use. Medtech, by far the market leader for years, and MyPractice, set up by GP Ashwin Patel and used by a number of practices in Auckland and Northland, didn't make the cut, with three alternatives currently being evaluated by a panel of practice managers and GPs.

Wellington PHO Compass and Canterbury's Pegasus have also been through this process recently, with Pegasus going for Intrahealth's Profile and Compass set to sign on the dotted line with Indici, a new cloud-based system that has been co-designed with another PHO, Pinnacle, where it has been installed in only a handful of practices so far.

Unlike Australian PHNs, New Zealand PHOs aren't government but instead membership organisations, and they do quite a lot of IT support and shared services. Practices won't be required to swap to the preferred supplier but there's no doubt many will feel the pressure to do so. Medtech itself is a bit miffed, according to NZ Doctor, and a big question remains for ProCare about what to do about its preferred patient portal and whether this will also have to change.

It's change that is the big challenge and we believe there needs to be a pretty compelling argument before practices will consider moving to a new vendor. The long-term players know their customers well and have spent years developing rich content and providing hands-on support, so it's no wonder there is rarely much market movement. And all of the big players have a cloud system on the market or in development – MD has Helix, Genie has Gentu, Medtech has Evolution and Best Practice is working towards Titanium, with Indigo set to be released in the next month.

The market will move almost completely to the cloud eventually but no one's really in a huge hurry for it, excepting perhaps the big corporates where the efficiencies of software-as-a-service and a whole-of-organisation view make a lot of sense to the bottom line.

While the GP market is tough to crack there is a big opportunity in the specialist market, which is dominated by Genie and a few other players, including stayers Shexie and Houston and newcomers like Clinic to Cloud. ADHA CEO Tim Kelsey alluded to the challenge this market presents in a presentation last week, when he mentioned that between a third and a half of all specialist doctors do not use computers in their consulting rooms. Allied health would be on a par, if not worse.

We'd like to poll our general, specialist and allied health practice readers on this question to see if there is any movement at the station. Is your practice likely to change its clinical software in the next three years?

To vote in our weekly polls, sign up for our weekend edition or leave your comments below.

Our poll last week asked: Is the Digital Health CRC a positive development for digital health? Many of our readers share our cynicism: 24 per cent said yes, 76 per cent said no.

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