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9/22/2009
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Lab To Market Cloud-Based E-Health Record System

Practice Fusion's electronic health record system will be available free to BioReference Lab's 15,000 affiliated physicians.

Practice Fusion, a provider of a cloud-based electronic health record system available free to physicians, has struck a unique partnership with BioReference Laboratories. Under the deal, in addition to feeding lab data into Practice Fusion e-health records, BioReference will encourage its network of 15,000 doctors to use Practice Fusion's system.

"With this deal, we've gained another 15,000 physicians," says the EHR vendor's CEO Ryan Howard. That's providing, of course, that all 15,000 doctors who use BioReference labs for patient tests sign on for Practice Fusion's free software-as-a-service applications. Besides EHR, Practice Fusion offers e-prescription, billing, scheduling, charting, and other medical apps. Only a small percentage of BioReference physicians currently use EHR systems, Howard said.

BioReference is the nation's third largest full-service medical testing lab behind Qwest Diagnostics and LabCorp. Those companies also integrate lab data into Practice Fusion e-health records, but they don't collaborate with Practice Fusion to distribute the software.

Partnerships that have third-party companies, like labs and pharmacies, sending data to patients' digital records are vital to EHR providers as they race to attract to their platforms tens of thousands of small U.S. doctors' practices that still use paper files to track patient information.

Cloud-based platforms like Practice Fusion make it easier for labs such as BioReference to integrate their data into the e-health records, said Amar Kamath, BioReference marketing VP. That's because "we only have to integrate the data once, not for every doctor's office," he says. With traditional off-the-shelf packages that run on servers in doctor practices, "each one has an independent platform that the lab has to integrate with, and that's not easy," he says. "The Web is more cost efficient. We integrate once, we've got limited resources."

"Connectivity is essential," Howard said. Under the meaningful use requirements that the Dept. of Health and Human Services has disclosed so far, it appears physicians will get reimbursed with stimulus package rewards if they connect their EHR systems to pharmacies for e-prescriptions, as well as using them for data reporting.

Ensuring that EHR products are equipped for data feeds that enable meaningful use "is a major priority for everyone" in this market, Howard said.

InformationWeek has published an in-depth report on e-health and the federal stimulus package. Download the report here (registration required).

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