CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 · Appl Clin Inform 2020; 11(02): 356-365
DOI: 10.1055/s-0040-1710310
Research Article
Georg Thieme Verlag KG Stuttgart · New York

Twilighted Homegrown Systems: The Experience of Six Traditional Electronic Health Record Developers in the Post–Meaningful Use Era

Tiago K. Colicchio
1  Informatics Institute, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, Alabama, United States
James J. Cimino
1  Informatics Institute, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, Alabama, United States
› Author Affiliations
Funding This study was supported by research funds from the Informatics Institute of the University of Alabama at Birmingham.
Further Information

Publication History

04 February 2020

31 March 2020

Publication Date:
20 May 2020 (online)


Objectives This study aimed to understand if and how homegrown electronic health record (EHR) systems are used in the post–Meaningful Use (MU) era according to the experience of six traditional EHR developers.

Methods We invited informatics leaders from a convenience sample of six health care organizations that have recently replaced their long used homegrown systems with commercial EHRs. Participants were asked to complete a written questionnaire with open-ended questions designed to explore if and how their homegrown system(s) is being used and maintained after adoption of a commercial EHR. We used snowball sampling to identify other potential respondents and institutions.

Results Participants from all six organizations included in our initial sample completed the questionnaire and provided referrals to four other organizations; from these, two did not respond to our invitations and two had not yet replaced their system and were excluded. Two organizations (Columbia University and University of Alabama at Birmingham) still use their homegrown system for direct patient care and as a downtime system. Four organizations (Intermountain Healthcare, Partners Healthcare, Regenstrief Institute, and Vanderbilt University) kept their systems primarily to access historical data. All organizations reported the need to continue to develop or maintain local applications despite having adopted a commercial EHR. The most common applications developed include display and visualization tools and clinical decision support systems.

Conclusion Homegrown EHR systems continue to be used for different purposes according to the experience of six traditional homegrown EHR developers. The annual cost to maintain these systems varies from $21,000 to over 1 million. The collective experience of these organizations indicates that commercial EHRs have not been able to provide all functionality needed for patient care and local applications are often developed for multiple purposes, which presents opportunities for future research and EHR development.

Protection of Human and Animal Subjects

Human subjects were not involved in this project.