HP EHReady Offers Electronic Medical Records Management

Hewlett-Packard's EHReady full-service kit for managing electronic health records will offer hardware, third-party EMR software, services and support, marketing, and financing.

Hewlett-Packard is rolling out its EHReady program, a full-service electronic medical records package designed to make it easier for health care facilities to adopt the practice of electronic records storage. EHReady will also help health care organizations take advantage of federal stimulus benefits.

EHReady, which HP officially announced July 13, will make hardware such as desktops, notebooks, tablet PCs and scanners available to health care facilities needing a technological revamp, along with associated services and support. HP is also offering financing through HP Financial Services and arranging with ISVs to offer EMR (electronic medical records) software.

Chris Mertens, vice president of health care in HP's Personal Systems Group, said hospitals needed a tool kit to get physicians on board with using EMRs. Mertens described the EHReady program as a type of "concierge" service, making sure that health care facilities have the services and support they need.

While third parties will produce the EMR software and HP is still deciding which ISVs to use, HP will help market the program, install products and provide services, support and training.

Focus groups have indicated that the question of service and support worries health care facilities the most about EMRs, Mertens told eWEEK. In addition, he estimated that health care companies may have to refresh 75 percent of their PC hardware to run EMR programs.

"We think that a broad number of physicians are going to refresh their technology, including their hardware, to ensure that they've got the right level of configuration to meet the minimum hardware specs," Mertens said.

For HP, which remains the world's largest producer of PCs, this is another way to sell more of its hardware and services to health care providers.

HP, of course, is not the only PC maker eyeing the potentially lucrative health care market. Dell, thanks to its acquisition of Perot Systems, is also actively expanding into health care, providing IT services as well as PCs, printers, servers, storage and software. Gartner has estimated that health care companies are planning to spend about 4 percent more on IT services, hardware and software in 2010 than in 2009.

In addition to services and hardware, HP will provide financing options for medical facilities and guide them on how to access stimulus money under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, the federal stimulus bill passed in February 2009 that provides financial incentives for physicians and hospitals to adopt EMRs.

"Customers are looking for a comprehensive program to provide technology solutions and service and support to their affiliated physicians," Mertens said. "It's not just about the choice and installation; the big thing is service and support." Smaller physician groups need the most help setting up EMR programs because they lack an IT staff, Mertens added.