Customer Satisfaction of CM Software: Opportunities and Challenges

Pat Stricker, RN, MEd, Senior Vice President
TCS Healthcare Technologies

Over the years, many health information technology (HIT) implementations could be considered successful by achieving key business and clinical benchmarks. But one metric often overlooked is user satisfaction. When implementing care management software (CMS), electronic medical record (EMR), or a similar HIT system, tracking and understanding user satisfaction is extremely important. Although a CMS or EMR system may meet the business specs, the user satisfaction levels can speak volumes as to how the application is really working. For example, many of us, as patients, have heard our physicians complain about how difficult it is to enter information during a medical exam into their EMR system. Case managers also complain about their CMS taking too much time to document or being too complicated.

The good news is more than 50 percent of users appear to be satisfied with their CMS and EMR applications. In the final update to the 2012 Health IT Survey, Trend Report #9: Satisfaction and the Adoption Curve, to be released soon, highlights the levels of user satisfaction for both types of systems. 

Table 1 shows the satisfaction rates of care management software systems since 2008. Although most respondents reported being "Somewhat Satisfied" or higher for all three surveys, there are some interesting patterns. For example, the general satisfaction rates rose a total of 4 percent over the six-year period. In 2008, 56 percent  of the respondents reported being satisfied, and in 2012 60 percent reported the same level of satisfaction. But during the last two years, respondents reported a slight drop in satisfaction, i.e., 68 percent of respondents in 2010 reported being satisfied compared 60 percent in 2010. Similarly, the "Very Satisfied" rating dropped a bit from 13 percent  in 2008 to 9 percent in 2012. In contrast, the "Not Satisfied" rating dropped (which is a good pattern) over the same time period. These shifting trends are interesting, but hard to fully explain without factoring in a number of potential confounding influences (as will be described in greater detail in Trend Report #9). 

Table 2 shows the satisfaction rates for electronic medical record systems since 2008 as well. Interestingly, a significant increase was reported in overall satisfaction ratings in EMR systems from 2008 to 2010, with 49 percent  of the respondents reporting that they were "Somewhat Satisfied" or higher in 2008 and 78 percent reporting the same level of satisfaction in 2010. In contrast to the CMS findings, EMR users reported a slightly higher rate of "dissatisfaction" from 2008 (11 percent) to 2012 (18 percent). 

Since 2008, a number of public and private sector initiatives have likely influenced these satisfaction ratings. Clearly, the "meaningful use" incentives offered by the federal government have increased the EMR adoption rates over the last few years. Also, the Affordable Care Act has promoted a number of initiatives to promote new provider systems, such as accountable care organizations, that use both the CMS and EMR systems. The rise of population health management programs has also impacted how HIT applications are being used and implemented. In addition, technology itself is changing rapidly with enhanced visualization/dashboard options, more mobile applications, increased customization, and other factors that can improve the user’s experience. 

Tracking user satisfaction will remain a key metric to ensure that the HIT applications are being leveraged and optimized to promote the best patient outcomes and other key public policy goals. Don’t forget to download Trend Report #9 and the earlier reports as well. For more information on the survey or to obtain the series of Trend Reports, visit or A comprehensive report will also be available in the TCS booth at the upcoming CMSA Annual Conference in Cleveland.

To contact Pat Stricker, email her at, or reach her at (530) 886-1700 ext. 215.