IBM Strikes Electronic Health Care Records Deals

IBM Global Financing has entered into deals with four health care organizations to help them pay for their EHR projects while they await federal stimulus funds. The deals also will enable IBM to collect interest on the financing and raise its profile in the growing health care IT market.

IBM is looking to help health care businesses put their medical records into a digital format while they wait for federal stimulus funds to become available.

IBM announced Dec. 22 that its lending unit, IBM Global Financing, has signed new financing agreements with four EHR (electronic health records) providers to help them pay for their projects.

According to IBM officials, the issue comes down to the cost of EHR projects and the timetable for the Obama administration to dole out money from the billions of dollars allocated for such projects.

It can cost health care organizations millions of dollars to buy and deploy the technology needed to put their medical records into a digital format. The Obama administration, as part of ARRA (American Recovery and Reinvestment Act), is offering money and incentives to encourage such projects.

However, it is taking awhile for the federal government to reimburse such efforts through the ARRA, according to IBM. The financing offered by IBM helps bridge that gap, according to Richard Dicks, general manager for North America for IBM Global Financing.

"Customers of electronic health care records solutions soon realize that while health IT technology is necessary, it's also expensive," Dicks said in a statement. "Costs have today become a non-technological barrier to health IT adoption. It's a chicken-and-egg scenario facing medical providers. Many are waiting for government funding working its way through the system, but need the benefits of the technology today."

IBM Global Financing is currently working with about 40 percent of the top vendors of acute care EHR systems, the company said.

The deals enable IBM to make money through the interest on the financing, while also raising its profile in the burgeoning health care IT market.

The latest IBM financing deals are with Siemens Healthcare, Lavender & Wyatt Systems, Healthcare Management Systems and SCC Soft Computer.