GE SAAS Offering Eases Electronic Medical Records Management

GE Health Care is rolling out a new, cloud-based platform that makes it easier for physicians with small practices to maintain and keep track of the electronic medical records of their patients. The new SAAS offering is part of GE's Centricity offering.

On June 15, GE Health Care rolled out a software-as-a-service addition to its Centricity enterprise medical-industry platform that offers automated Web-based "plug and play" for physicians to maintain electronic medical records and manage their practice digitally.

GE planned to demonstrate the service at a roundtable event at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., coinciding with National Health IT week. GE is a sponsor of the week's activities. The event includes a number of speakers, including former House speaker Newt Gingrich.

With Centricity Advance, GE allows doctors' offices to access electronic information faster and complete training within four weeks. It also requires little maintenance and follows the standard protocols for connecting with outside networks.

GE's SAAS offering comes at a time when small physician practices seek faster and more affordable ways to handle medical information digitally, according to the company.

"Small physician practices are looking for an affordable solution to help them go digital quickly, minimizing or eliminating the disruptions of lengthy implementation and training times," Vishal Wanchoo, president and CEO of GE Healthcare's information technology business, wrote in a statement.

The quick tutorials and simple functionality of Centricity Advance allows physicians to spend more time with patients and maintain quality control, wrote Wanchoo.

GE Centricity is a software platform that allows enterprises to manage patient flow and the practice's revenue cycle. It also provides tools for subscriptions and orders, decision support, quality-of-care reports and compliance with health-care data standards.

By entering a secure password from anywhere, the service allows patients to schedule appointments, access billing statements and private messages and request prescription refills and lab results.

Subscription fees will range from $300 to $800 per month and the upfront fee will cost between $4,000 and $9,000, according to GE.

GE says Centricity Advance is more flexible than other EMR offerings because it's designed from the ground up. The new service adds a plug-and-play option to GE's Centricity product line.

"Essentially the customer signs up with GE and can be up and running almost immediately," Corey Miller, a GE spokesman, told eWEEK. "They may choose to go slower [to take advantage of training, etc.], but the product allows customer setup to be done very, very quickly."

GE also plans to add e-commerce capabilities that will allow medical practices to process payments and other features remotely, said Miller.

Previously, doctor's offices had been resistant to implementing automated health care offerings due to the complexity and cost. Miller says the quick and easy SAAS service targets medical practices that have a small IT staff or those that lack one altogether.

The market for electronic medical records -- and health care IT -- is expected to grow as health care companies hope to take advantage of health care reform and government financial subsidies.

Dell and other service vendors have been actively developing electronic medical record services that are simple and cost-effective.

"Physicians know they need to adopt an EMR in the near-term in order to maximize their potential for stimulus reimbursements that start in 2011," wrote Jim Corrigan, vice president and general manager of GE Healthcare IT's ambulatory care business, in a statement.

In April 2009, GE announced that it would invest $250 million with Intel to develop health care IT technologies such as telemedicine.