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HP Moves Into Doctor Practices With McKesson Deal

As tens of thousands of small doctor office in the U.S. evaluate how they'll cash in on the federal government's $20 billion health IT stimulus programs, Hewlett Packard is the latest computer vendor looking for a piece of the action. And it's signed up with McKesson to help.
As tens of thousands of small doctor office in the U.S. evaluate how they'll cash in on the federal government's $20 billion health IT stimulus programs, Hewlett Packard is the latest computer vendor looking for a piece of the action. And it's signed up with McKesson to help.HP yesterday announced a partnership to offer HP hardware--including desktop computers, notebooks and thin client devices--bundled with McKesson's EHR and practice management software to physician offices nationwide.

The systems will be sold through McKesson's network of several hundred "EHR certified" value-added resellers, who'll also provide doctors with assessments, installation, training and support services, said Chris Mertens, VP of HP's personal systems group's healthcare business in an interview with InformationWeek.

While McKesson says it's already deployed 100,000 physician practice management systems over the years, new bundled offerings with HP is HP's first big move in trying to tap the physician practice market with EHR systems.

"This is our first bundle for physicians, but there will be others," said Mertens. As for bundling its computers with other EHR packages from other software vendors, "we don't want to be spread too thick, we'll make sure we have the best ones," he said.

While HP's systems aren't uncommon in larger healthcare environments--such as hospitals--HP is looking to make its mark with bundled packages for small doctor offices the same way it's trying to grow presence in other small-to-mid sized businesses in other industries, Mertens said.

The first bundled HP/McKesson EHR offering won't like be available till June, he said. In the meantime, the government's meaningful use criteria "are still being worked out," with the feds not expected to finalize the rules till sometime in March, said Mertens.

That means there's still plenty of time for HP to jump into the small doctor practice market for EHR systems.

Mertens acknowledges that many small doctor offices have no IT staff to support EHR systems even after they're installed. That's one of the appealing issues doctors consider when weighing SaaS vesrus on-site e-health record deployments.

But McKesson's EHR and practice management products aren't yet offered via a SaaS model, said Mertens, although McKesson is planning web-based versions for the future.

In the meantime, Mertens is confident that McKesson's third-party resellers will provide doctors with any needed handholding.

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