GE Partners With Health-Care Provider To Develop Next-Generation Clinical Software - InformationWeek

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GE Partners With Health-Care Provider To Develop Next-Generation Clinical Software

Intermountain Health Care, a pioneer in the use of computerized health records, will help develop a release of GE's Centricity clinical system.

Intermountain Health Care, a pioneer among the nation's health-care providers in the use of computerized patient records, on Wednesday said it and General Electric Healthcare have inked a deal to co-develop a new generation of electronic health record and clinical decision-support systems.

Under the $100 million, 10-year deal, GE and Intermountain will co-develop a new generation of GE's Centricity clinical software--including electronic health records and a bedside electronic medication-administration system--that builds on the 30 years of experience Intermountain has in developing and using clinical applications. Intermountain is particularly adept at building and using clinical decision-support systems that provide doctors with best-practice protocols, research findings, and other information to help guide better treatment and care decisions.

GE Healthcare, a $14 billion unit of General Electric Co., will also sell the software to other health-care providers, says Giri Iyer, general manager of strategic relations at GE Healthcare.

Intermountain, a nonprofit operator of 100 clinics, health-insurance plans, and 21 hospitals in Utah and Idaho, including its flagship Latter Day Saints Hospital, began using homegrown electronic health record software called Help about 30 years ago. Intermountain provides care for about 50% of Utah's citizens, CIO Marc Probst says.

Intermountain's older, homegrown, "green-screen, ACSII-based" software is used by 15,000 doctors, nurses, lab workers, and radiologists in outpatient settings, Probst says. An additional 600 doctors in their offices use a newer version of the software, Help2, which was developed a few years ago. While both versions of Help are used predominately in ambulatory-care settings--such as outpatient facilities and doctor offices--some Help modules, including lab reporting and radiology software, are used in Intermountain hospitals.

Intermountain will roll out the new electronic health record software in its hospitals for in-patient care, as well as at its outpatient facilities and medical offices. The first Intermountain hospitals will begin using the software next year.

"This [alliance] vastly speeds up what we were going to do anyway," Probst says.

The current Help and Help2 software used at Intermountain provide doctors with electronic tools that address patient care in a more "episodic" or per-visit fashion, rather than a "longitudinal" approach that pulls in historical patient information, says Probst, who joined Intermountain two years ago. He was formerly a health industry consultant at Ernst & Young.

The pact will have GE and Intermountain creating a "cradle-to-grave" longitudinal health-record system, he says.

Because Intermountain doctors have been using E-health record software for so long, Intermountain has already overcome a big hurdle that many medical and physician groups and hospitals are only now facing--getting doctors to buy in to replacing paper-based record keeping and manual processes with electronic processes and simplified workflows.

During the development work, GE will have access to Intermountain's "living lab," which is the clinical settings that nurses, doctors, technicians, and others work in, Probst says. The new co-development staff will be housed in an Intermountain facility in Salt Lake City.

GE chose to work with Intermountain on this project because the health-care provider was a pioneer in developing and using clinical software, GE's Iyer says.

Intermountain "has the best clinical decision-support software in the world," Iyer says. The software developed by the two companies will spotlight the vast experience that Intermountain has in clinical decision-support applications, Iyer says. For instance, doctors who use the Help software have electronic access to Intermountain's database of medical best practices and protocols to help guide better decision, Probst says.

For example, research has found that pediatric patients recover more quickly if the amount of time they spend on ventilators to aid breathing is reduced, Probst says. Intermountain's clinical decision-support software provides doctors with such alerts and advice to guide decision making, he says.

It's those types of best practices and protocols that will be built into the new Centricity software. Other GE health-care-provider customers using the software also will be able to "build in" their own clinical protocols and best practices, Probst says. The co-development facility will start off with a staff of 60 to 80 people but will eventually employ about 100 to 150, Probst says. The group will include a combination of GE and Intermountain clinical and IT staff.

Intermountain is among several prestigious health-care providers to recently sign major co-development pacts with a vendor of health IT products and services. In May, the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center signed a $402 million deal with IBM. As part of that alliance, UPMC and IBM will jointly sell new co-developed technologies, such as IT tools to deal with bioterror, epidemics, and cancer research and treatment, to other health-care providers.

Under the pact between GE and Intermountain, GE will sell the jointly developed software. The contract does provide Intermountain with possible royalties, Probst says, although Intermountain is a nonprofit company.

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