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Hospitals Are Helping Docs Defray EMR Costs, Challenges

Are hospital-sponsored e-medical records the best way to get lots of doctors using these systems in their offices quickly and affordably?

Are hospital-sponsored e-medical records the best way to get lots of doctors using these systems in their offices quickly and affordably?Most independent physicians are affiliated with at least one hospital in their region, sometimes several. While the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act will provide doctor practices financial rewards totaling between $44,000 to $60,000 for their "meaningful use" of EMR system between 2011 and 2014, the upfront cost of buying these technologies is still a burden to many doctor groups--not to mention training, ongoing tech support, and so on.

But with changes a few years ago to federal fraud and anti-kickback regulations, hospitals can donate clinical software and services without worrying about breaking laws.

In fact, some hospitals in Boston and elsewhere seem to think these changes in federal regulations---combined with cloud computing models--provides a better shot in getting docs using EMRs in their practices vs. the doctors purchasing, deploying and supporting these systems themselves.

In Boston, the latest hospital to roll out EMRs for its affiliated physician practices is Tufts Medical Center. The hospital is working with Dell and EMR vendor eClinicalWork, which is hosting the EMR and practice management software used by the docs via a SaaS model. Tufts joins at least one other Boston area hospital--Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center--in sponsoring EMR rollouts to help reduce costs and ease support worries of hundreds of their affiliated physicians offices in digitizing patient records.

In a recent webcast sponsored by Dell, Tufts Medical Center CIO Bill Shickolovich said the hospital's IT organization is working "as a services provider" in helping hundreds of physician offices in the Boston community deploy EMRs "as swiftly and as safely as possible" with "the least amount of capital expenditure."

As an academic teaching hospital, the roll out is also helping Tufts meet national and internal quality of care goals, ranging from the federal government's overall aim of having a majority of healthcare providers in the U.S. using e-medical records by 2015, as well as Tufts own "continuum of care," which includes having important patient info securely available to Tufts and its affiliated healthcare providers, regardless of whether the patient is being treated in the hospital or out in the community.

To help propel this momentum in hospital-sponsored EMR projects, last week Dell announced a formal offering of services. In a statement, Dell described its Dell Affiliated Physician EMR Solution as "a modular, enterprise-class EMR solution that sponsor hospitals will configure to meet the specific needs of their affiliated physician community."

The offering also includes "application hosting and Health Information Exchange management and revenue opportunities for sponsor hospitals and everything necessary to promote the solution to hospitals," said Dell.

Dell has partners like Perot ready to provide hosting services, and Dell also has relationships with several third-party EMR vendors, including eClinicalWorks and Allscripts, which are among EMR vendors offering their healthcare packages via SaaS models.

Is your organization a candidate for a hospital-sponsored EMR deployment?

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