Athenahealth and EClinicalWorks CEOs Explain Their Differences, Critique Software Subsidies

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think twice about. That’s the price that we came out with in 1999, and in 2011, we will still set it at $250. This said, we’ve got 40,000 physicians paying this much and have built a very successful company.”

Clearly, Navani believes that a low-cost monthly fee from doctors is the best way to build his business. Bush thinks otherwise; Athena’s method of collecting payment from doctors based on a percentage of a doctor’s revenue is quite different from a set subscription payment.

From left: Bob Buderi, CEO of Xconomy, and Pam McNamara.

Bob Buderi, CEO of Xconomy, and Pam McNamara.

The Evolutionary Scale

Bush gave his vision of the evolution of computing, beginning with companies that provide software on disks (akin to cavemen hunting rabbits with rocks, Bush quipped), and culminating with companies that provide cloud-based services. Of course in this scenario, eClinicalWorks would be less evolved than Athena because eClinicalWorks’s products are its software.

“The software is a means to an end. It’s the store. It’s the thing that is used to bring the customer to the product. And the product is the outcome.” Bush said. “For Amazon, the product is the story inside the book. So if I could give you a piece of electronic technology at a loss and zip you stories into this Kindle, I’m accomplishing the end, I’m selling you the story. And that’s where I see healthcare needing to go.”

Navani, unsurprisingly, saw things differently. “It is not about how you deliver technology as the only point of differentiation,” he said. He noted that his firm’s model enables its software to be customized for each customer, and to be hosted on the customer’s own servers or on eClinicalWork’s servers (for an additional monthly fee, according to the firm’s website). The company has also developed a system of providing its customers with software updates sent to their e-mail inboxes rather than on the disks that so irk Bush, and the firm lets customers decide whether to adopt new versions of the software.

The bottom line: Bush sees software as a means to delivering services or products to customers—and the software itself shouldn’t be viewed as the product. Navani appears to lean closer to the point of view that software is the product, which customers want to buy and customize to suit the needs of their organizations.

Who Owns the Place?

Athena is a publicly traded company. EClinicalWorks is private and has no outside … Next Page »

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3 responses to “Athenahealth and EClinicalWorks CEOs Explain Their Differences, Critique Software Subsidies”

  1. Great article. With the debate about the risks and benefits of electronic health records heating up, Bush and Navani provide insight during this pivotal time of transformation.

    While $250 is a low subscription fee for doctors, Practice Fusion’s EMR is free. There is no cost for hosting, licensing, training or support, even though the product handles all aspects of a practice’s operations. We have eliminated the main barrier to adoption for physicians – cost.

    Exciting to see innovation among so many vendors in the health IT space.

  2. Richard says:

    I wish I had that price!!! I just started orthopaedic practice and I am paying $600/month plus another $80 for gateway.

  3. Danny says:

    HL7 interfacing?? i got an email from their sales department and I quote copied and paste… “We would not interface with another EMR or
    PM. ”

    So what good is it than??