GE Healthcare Intros Cloud EMR For Small Practices - InformationWeek

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Healthcare // Electronic Health Records

GE Healthcare Intros Cloud EMR For Small Practices

The software-as-a-service GE Centricity Advance e-medical record system will help small medical practices comply with healthcare reform's "meaningful use" requirements.

The new offering's patient portal permits patients using secure passwords to log in to schedule appointments, request prescription refills, and access billing statements, lab results, and messages from physicians.

The portal also allows patients "to export continuity-of-care records to take with them" on vacation or to other physicians, said Dr. Desiree Butter, a family physician who is using the software in her Wexford, Pa. solo-practitioner office.

That capability for patients to access their records "fulfills an element of meaningful use," that's expected in the HITECH act's "meaningful use" rules that will be finalized by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services later this month, she said.

Butter said she expects her practice will not only be compliant to the upcoming meaningful use regulations in time for the government's financial rewards that start in 2011, but her office "will probably exceed" the federal requirements for EMR use, she said.

GE says the new software often can be up and running in many physician practices in about four weeks, including implementation and training time.

"This is an important breakthrough if you're in a rural community," said Newt Gingrich, former speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, founder of the Center for Healthcare Transformation, and a panelist at the GE Webcast.

"The challenge of rural America is understated," especially for small medical offices implementing digitized record systems without their own in-house technical teams. "GE does the support and sustainment," he said. Doctor offices being able to access secure, hosted e-medical records via the cloud regardless of where they're located is akin to "using an ATM" to withdraw money regardless of where you're traveling, he said.

The up-front cost of implementing GE Advance is between $4,000 and $9,000 and monthly subscription fees range from about $300 to $800.

GE joins a number of other vendors offering SaaS-based e-health record systems for doctor practices including NextGen, eClinicalWorks, and PracticeFusion.

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