Caritas Offers Docs Athenahealth EMR Option

Caritas Christi Health Care will offer electronic medical record software from Athenahealth to its 1,700 doctors in New England.

Marianne Kolbasuk McGee, Senior Writer, InformationWeek

January 6, 2010

3 Min Read

As healthcare organizations begin the race to meet the federal government's meaningful-use criteria, some are widening the pool of products they'll support to get more providers recording and exchanging patient data electronically.

Caritas Christi Health Care, which operates six hospitals in Massachusetts, said this week it has added Athenahealth's AthenaClinicals to its offering of electronic medical record software used by employed and affiliated physicians.

Through an expanded relationship with Caritas Christi, Athenahealth will provide its AthenaClinicals Web-based EMR to Caritas Christi's network of 500 employed doctors and 1,200 affiliated physicians at negotiated, discounted prices. Caritas Christi's network of employed doctors already uses another Athenahealth product, AnthenaCollector, for billing and revenue management.

The addition of AthenaClinicals is another EMR option available to doctors that Caritas Christi will support for the exchange of patient data, such as labs and other information between physician practices and Caritas Christi's hospitals, says Todd Rothenhaus, Caritas Christi's senior VP and CIO.

Late last year, Caritas Christi said it was launching a three-year $70 million IT initiative to drive e-health record adoption among physicians. The initiative will also create a health information exchange, which includes Microsoft Amalga and HealthVault technologies, to aggregate patient data in disparate systems throughout the hospital network, as well as provide patients with Web-based access to their medical information.

Amalga makes it easier for Caritas Christi to support "more than a single EMR" platform used by doctors, said Rothenhaus.

Caritas Christi, the largest community-based healthcare system in New England, provides care to about 600,000 patients in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. However, 90% of the approximately 1,700 doctors employed or affiliated with Caritas Christi aren't using any e-health record software at all in their practices, said Rothenhaus.

Of those Caritas Christi doctors who have deployed e-health record systems in their practices, some are already using AthenaClinicals or other EMR packages of their choosing, including software from NexGen and GE, he said. However, the biggest concentration of Caritas Christi doctors who are using e-health record systems have implemented eClinicalWorks. That's in large part because many of those doctors received the software several years ago for free as part of a $50 million e-health pilot program funded by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts.

Under that program, doctors in three Massachusetts communities -- including those in the Brockton, Mass. area, a city south of Boston -- were provided with free eClinicalWorks systems and services for their practices.

Brockton is also home to Caritas Christi's Good Samaritan Medical Center, helping to explain the high adoption rate of e-health records among Caritas Christi employed and affiliated doctors in that region of Massachusetts, Rothenhaus said. As for Good Samaritan, the hospital is Caritas Christi's most IT-advanced facility, said Rothenhaus.

"Brockton is our biggest success so far," he said.

Good Samaritan recently rolled out a new computerized physician order-entry system and the hospital itself is a Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society stage-six user of EMRs, out of seven stages, meaning the facility is currently considered an advanced user of e-health records compared with the vast majority of hospitals in the U.S.

However, the meaningful-use criteria set out by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services last week proposes that hospitals by 2015 will need to have a majority of clinicians using EMR systems at stages six and seven -- including using these systems to improve care coordination and public health populations -- in order to meet stimulus reward requirements.

About the Author(s)

Marianne Kolbasuk McGee

Senior Writer, InformationWeek

Marianne Kolbasuk McGee is a former editor for InformationWeek.

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