Should EHR Companies Build Their Own Patient Engagement Platform?

March 28, 2024 | By The InteliChart Team

nurse using ipad for patient engagement

Electronic Health Records (EHRs) have transformed the landscape of care delivery, assisting healthcare organizations in efficiently documenting clinical encounters and overseeing patient records. Nonetheless, as patients take a more active role in their healthcare journey, EHR vendors are under increasing pressure to adapt their systems to prioritize the needs of today’s healthcare consumer. 

This article will explore the growing importance of EHR’s in promoting patient engagement, along with the available options that EHR vendors can employ to provide these solutions to their clientele. 

The link between EHRs and patient engagement 

Patient engagement has evolved beyond being just a buzzword or a peripheral strategy; it's now a pivotal factor for the success of healthcare organizations. Its impact extends to improving patient outcomes, boosting satisfaction levels, and ultimately lowering costs for providers.  

To meet these requirements, healthcare organizations frequently rely on their Electronic Health Records (EHRs) to furnish essential engagement solutions for patients, including online scheduling, digital intake forms, and telehealth services. EHR vendors that can offer a comprehensive array of engagement solutions are better poised to enhance customer satisfaction and maintain their market presence. 

However, developing and implementing a patient engagement platform can be a complex and challenging process for EHR vendors.  

In many cases, partnering with a patient engagement company is the most effective and efficient solution for EHRs. However, before an organization commits to a partnership, it’s critical to explore the buy versus build decision.  

Considerations for in-house patient engagement development 

Developing a patient engagement solution in-house can provide several benefits such as greater control over features and functionality, as well as customization to meet specific organizational needs.  

However, there are some important considerations to keep in mind: 

Required resources 

Building an in-house solution requires significant time, money, and expertise. EHR vendors must have the resources to support the development, implementation, and maintenance of the solution. 

According to our research, it would require more than 24 months to create a basic minimally viable product (MVP) suite of patient engagement solutions. Assuming USA-based development and headcounts costs, EHRs need between $5.6 – $9.8 million to deliver a basic minimally viable product.  

Scalability and continuous development 

As patient engagement needs grow, an in-house solution may not be able to keep up with demand. EHR vendors must consider whether they have the resources and infrastructure to scale the solution as needed.  

Patient engagement is constantly evolving and EHRs will need to keep up with the latest patient-as-consumer demands. In addition, there are sizable costs for data center and associated technology fees, general infrastructure, and testing certifications such as SOCII and HITRUST. EHRs should budget between $1.9 to $2.7 million annually to maintain their solution. 

Patient engagement expertise 

Developing and deploying a patient engagement solution requires expertise in areas such as user experience design, software development, and patient engagement strategy. EHR vendors must have the necessary expertise to create a solution that meets the needs of their clients.  

In some cases, EHRs may choose to redeploy existing employees to patient engagement efforts. Additional time and spare funding may be required to accommodate the inevitable learning curve that will take place. Others may choose to create a new team, which will also require time and resources to build.  


Considerations for partnering with a patient engagement specialist 

Typically, healthcare organizations feel pressured by the market to offer modern patient engagement solutions and can become impatient waiting for their EHR vendor to internally develop and deliver them. Delays in implementing these functionalities pose significant risks for EHRs, since patient dissatisfaction can lead to provider churn and eventually revenue loss. 

The terms offered when partnering with an external patient engagement company often resemble an acquisition, without the upfront capital costs associated with such a transaction. However, they still come with financial economies of scale and capped fees you’d expect after an acquisition. This arrangement offers several advantages, including accelerated time-to-market, reduced expenses, and access to the expertise and resources of vendors. 

Here are some factors to consider when deciding whether to partner with the vendor: 

Quick time-to-market 

Partnering with a patient engagement technology company allows EHR vendors to quickly deploy patient engagement solutions, helping them meet the needs of their clients, and subsequently patients, much faster than they could if they were to develop these solutions themselves.  

For context, InteliChart has enabled our EHR partners to launch patient engagement products in as little as 12 weeks. That is significantly less than the projected 24-month timeframe it would take for an EHR vendor to do it themselves. 

Moreover, incorporating patient engagement solutions into an EHR vendor’s services introduces an additional revenue stream for these organizations. A faster time to market also means a quicker timeline for getting paid. 

Controllable costs 

By avoiding the expenses associated with in-house development, such as hiring specialized personnel and investing in infrastructure, EHR vendors can allocate resources more efficiently. Also, collaborating with a patient engagement technology company offers predictable future costs, such as ongoing maintenance, updates, and support which are typically included in the partnership agreement. This approach enables EHR vendors to maintain financial stability while still meeting the evolving needs of their clients. 

Streamlined focus 

Allocating resources to new product development directly affects an EHR vendor’s capacity to uphold and innovate their EHR or practice management system. Partnering with a patient engagement technology company frees up time for EHR organizations to enhance and evolve their core solutions. 

A dedicated patient engagement technology company also possesses both the expertise to swiftly deploy solutions and the industry knowledge necessary to develop products that precisely fulfill patients' needs. This collaborative approach not only accelerates implementation but also ensures that the patient engagement platform meets the evolving demands of the healthcare landscape, while minimizing the learning curve required for the EHR organization’s staff. 

Ongoing Support 

Patient engagement is in a constant state of evolution, driven by growing patient demands, regulatory requirements, and the ongoing transition to value-based care reimbursement models. Consequently, patient engagement technology must undergo consistent innovation to meet these evolving needs. 

The advantage of partnering with a patient engagement technology company is that their singular focus is patient engagement. They shoulder the responsibility of innovating their solutions, freeing up your time and resources to be allocated elsewhere. 


With patients increasingly taking an active role in their healthcare, the demand for patient engagement solutions from EHR vendors is escalating. However, the decision to build or buy a patient engagement solution is complex for EHR vendors. They must weigh a variety of factors, including resource availability, scalability, expertise, cost-effectiveness, time-to-market, and the level of customization required.  

Partnering with a patient engagement technology company can provide an effective and efficient solution that meets the needs EHRs and the clients they serve.  

Contact us today to learn how InteliChart can help your organization deliver patient engagement solutions that makes sense for your bottom line and helps you achieve business goals. 


Selecting the right techology partner for your ehr