Dell to Help Hospitals Adopt Electronic Medical Records

Dell is rolling out a package of hardware, software and services designed to make it easier and less costly for hospitals and their affiliated physicians adopt electronic medical records. EMR systems not only promise to make healthcare less costly and more efficient, but also is a key goal behind the federal government's economic stimulus package. Dell's solution would be hosted by the hospital or a Dell partner, and would include Dell hardware and third-party applications.

Dell is offering hospitals and their affiliated physicians an electronic medical information system that removes the barriers of complexity and cost from the equation.

Dell on Sept. 10 announced its Affiliated Physicians EMR offering, a combination of hardware, software and support that will make it easier for hospitals to transition to electronic medical records, which not only has held the promise of lower costs and increasing efficiencies, but also is a key part of the health push in the federal economic stimulus package, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, or ARRA.

The ARRA has a goal of making electronic health records available to everyone in the United States by 2014. Hospitals and doctors who implement EMR by 2011 are eligible for bonus payments under the program.

The solution also is an illustration of the ways Dell is going to move forward since reorganizing earlier around vertical solutions.

In an online discussion that included officials with hospitals that have been testing the solution, Jamie Coffin, vice president of Dell's Healthcare and Life Sciences unit, said the offering is the first to really enable hospitals and their affiliated doctors-including smaller and midsize practices-the technology and support they need.

"In order to scale this thing in an effective way, you have to have as little complexity as you can," Coffin said.

Hospitals will be able to configure the modular hardware and software solution to meet their needs and the needs of their affiliated physicians, and can be hosted by the hospital or by one of Dell's partners.

For doctors, Dell is giving them a single source for their EMR needs, which will mean a cheaper and simpler solution. That includes financing options that reduce upfront and out-of-pocket expenses until the doctors can be reimbursed through the ARRA program.

The solution will include hosted EMR and practice management software, technology, assessment services, installation, training, enterprise-level performance and security, and around-the-clock support through Dell's ProSupport EMR Helpdesk.

Through a secure Health Information Exchange system hosted by the hospital or a Dell partner, hospitals and their affiliated physicians can exchange patient information, a key requirement for ARRA funding.

Coffin said the medical software used in the solution will come from third parties, such as eClinicalWorks.

In a report dated Aug. 29, Judy Hanover, an IDC analyst, said that while electronic records have been in use for about 40 years, it's only been in the last 10 that the technology has matured enough to entertain it for wide use. However, costs-including the initial investment and ongoing maintenance-have been a key inhibitor for doctors and hospitals, Hanover said.

The ARRA is giving physicians huge incentives to move in this direction, and now vendors such as Dell are looking to give them the technology and service they need.

In the report, Hanover said Dell's is one of the first comprehensive solutions for both hospitals and physicians.

"This approach utilizes collaboration between Dell, EMR vendors, hospitals and other partners to facilitate the delivery of an integrated package of services, software and hardware," she wrote. "Providing an integrated solution that is sponsored by a local hospital is expected to allow providers to better address the nonfinancial issues that are barriers to adoption."

Dell officials have been looking at the EMR issue as one they wanted to address. Dell and Perot Systems in April announced an alliance designed to help hospitals and physicians adopt EMR technologies.

George Beauregard, a primary care physician and chairman of the New England Quality Care Alliance, said during the online discussion that his practice has been using a Dell solution for about three months, and that like many other small practices, his lacked in-house IT expertise. The reaction to the EMR solution from doctors, employees and patients in his operation has been positive.

"It has been transformative to my practice during that time," Beauregard said.