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GE Healthcare Intros Cloud EMR For Small Practices

The software-as-a-service GE Centricity Advance e-medical record system will help small medical practices comply with healthcare reform's "meaningful use" requirements.

GE Healthcare is often associated with e-medical record and other clinical information systems used in hospitals and larger healthcare facilities. But the vendor Tuesday introduced for small, independent doctor practices a new Web-based, cloud version of its Centricity EMR software.

GE Centricity Advance is a new software-as-a-service offering that includes integrated e-medical records, practice management applications, and a patient portal.

The software is aimed at the 500,000 physicians in small U.S. practices with 15 or fewer doctors, a segment that currently has an EMR penetration rate of less than 15%, said Jim Corrigan, VP and general manager of GE Healthcare IT's ambulatory care business during a GE Webcast on Tuesday.

While GE's family of Centricity EMR products has a sizeable market presence in hospitals and larger doctor offices with 25 or more physicians, the small physician office segment overall faces difficulties such as cost and technical support in digitizing their practices, said Vishal Wanchoo, president and CEO of GE Healthcare IT during the Webcast.

While GE has for years offered to doctor practices ambulatory care versions of it GE Centricity EMR software -- which is popular in many large hospital settings -- the new Centricity Advance is a new "plug and play" option for small physician practices.

The new version is "a flexible" hosted system that can be implemented quickly so that doctors can prepare for the meaningful use of health IT financial incentives that begin in 2011 as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act's HITECH legislation, said Corrigan.

Centricity Advance software has been under development for a year with EMR vendor MedPlexus, which GE acquired last March.

GE Centricity Advance was designed "from the ground up" to be hosted and delivered via the Web, making it faster to implement, easier to support and upgrade, and less expense overall to install and run, said Wachoo. The new software is "not a hosted ASP version of client-server software," which other vendors frequently offer as SaaS options via a Web browser, said GE in a statement.

"Delivering an EMR via the Internet, via the cloud makes it easier to install and manage, and that's crucial for small offices," Wanchoo said. GE Advance allows for on-the-fly upgrades and a la carte features.

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