Wall Street and EHR Customer Satisfaction

I was recently reviewing the results of the KLAS 2011 mid-year survey, in which EHR users rated their respective vendors and products. Having spent some time on Wall Street early in my career, I could not help but notice a striking correlation between customer satisfaction and company ownership. The three top-ranked EHR companies—and five of the six top-rated companies—are privately held, while the bottom three—and eight of the nine lowest ranked companies—are publicly traded.

At first, I attributed this finding to sheer coincidence, but as I thought more about it, I realized that the correlation, while striking, is not surprising. Beholden to Wall Street, publicly traded companies seek to satisfy investors with short-term profits. They may be motivated to cut costs to generate higher net income for investors, and their ability to reinvest in ways that will promote future growth can be constrained by these outside interests. One common way to manage costs is to locate support offshore in call centers 8,000 miles away, where technicians read from a script in attempting to answer customers’ questions—cost-saving for sure, but detrimental to customer satisfaction.

Privately held companies, on the other hand, are accountable first and foremost to their clients. Free to take a long-term view of their business, they invest heavily in research and development. They also invest in their technical support teams—funding adequate staffing levels and ensuring that they receive ongoing training to keep them at the forefront of technology. The result is often lower turnover and a more experienced, higher-quality staff, which in turn results in superior customer service and happy clients.