Dell is expanding its electronic medical records offerings with a new hardware, software and service bundle designed to help hospitals ease the transition from paper to digital records.
The service is an end-to-end solution that touches upon all aspects of this process in the hospital setting, Dell spokesperson Cathie Hargett told TechNewsWorld.
“It encompasses financing, consulting for workflow, understanding site and practice readiness, installation, training of medical and professional staff, and support for IT staff,” she said.
Part of the project requires Dell to go to the hospitals for an on-site review. The software component can be installed either on-premise or in a data center through a Dell partner.
The hospital offering builds upon Dell’s earlier endeavors in the EMR space: The company has partnered with healthcare records software provider eClinicalWorks to offer an application for small practices through Sam’s Club. It has also provided EMRs to large hospitals on a limited basis.
The Dell application addresses a key pain point with the current system, which is that information about patients often does not flow among all those who need to access it, explained Tim Huerta, director of Texas Tech’s Center for Health Innovation, Education & Research.
“Dell’s system focuses on bridging the gap between the care and services you receive while in the hospital and the care you get from your regular doctor,” Huerta told TechNewsWorld. “By sharing information, doctors can make more-informed choices and reduce duplicative tests, which we hope will be passed on as savings to the consumer.”
The integration component will be a selling point for many institutions, Kurt Roemer, chief security strategist with Citrix Systems, told TechNewsWorld.
“Applications and systems like Dell’s new EMR will help jumpstart providers who would benefit from a preconfigured solution,” he said. “With a solution ranging from practice management to e-prescribing, turnkey EMR solutions make it easy for a provider to automate their medical records.”
The electronics medical records space is very active right now. The Obama administration’s push to reform health insurance is predicated upon lowering costs, and the aggressive implementation of EMRs is expected to yield a significant portion of these savings.
The stimulus bill passed in February has pushed more providers to expand their offerings, Ben Mehling, director of advanced technology at Medsphere Systems, told TechNewsWorld.
“One part of the stimulus bill calls for provisions around certification of EMRs and their ‘meaningful use,'” he said.
“Meaningful use” refers to making sure the application is being used correctly — that people are trained on it, and that the data is characterized accurately, Mehling explained.
“Providers of EMRs are now trying to build ‘meaningful use’ into their practice methodologies,” he noted.
The stimulus bill is also encouraging hospitals to move toward EMRs as fast as possible, using a series of incentives — and, eventually, penalties — to encourage adoption of the technology, Huerta said.
This sense of urgency means that hospitals must be careful in choosing which application to implement.
A hospital with a system favored by doctors could draw participation from more physicians, said Huerta. Conversely, a poorly designed EMR could discourage doctors from working at hospitals that have implemented it.
The fact that the market for EMR systems for physician practices is already crowded is not helping matters for either hospitals or doctors. The Certification Commission for Health IT (CCHIT) has certified 200 products as meeting its standards, and they represent just a subset of thevendor products available, Erica Drazen, managing partner in CSC’s emerging practices healthcare sector, told TechNewsWorld.
“However, finding the right product is only part of the challenge,” she said. “Physician practices — especially small ones — struggle with financing the purchase, implementing it effectively, and maintaining it over time. Vendors who have new approaches to meeting these challenges could be successful, even in this crowded market.”
Interoperable EMR systems — now called “EHRs” — are essential tools for collaboration for patient care, Drazen added, to “provide chronic and preventive care, to ensure safe care, and to report on quality as a by-product of care delivery.”
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