Privately-owned small businesses have dominated the supply and demand for electronic medical records (EMRs) as the technology has become increasingly trumpeted over the last several years. But now, several technology giants, including Dell, General Electric (GE) and Verizon, are seizing a stake in this sector of the healthcare industry.
In September, Dell announced the formation of a non-exclusive partnership with eClinicalWorks, a Westborough, Massachusetts-based medical software company, and the computer giant has also announced plans to acquire Perot Systems – a software company that has ample experience with healthcare clients.
Girish Kumar Navani, co-founder and CEO of eClinicalWorks, explained that the partnership was founded on both companies' mutual interest of offering customers reliable solutions for their healthcare problems. "It's important to get the right hardware, and have consistent support and service," Navani said. "Dell is currently focused around hospital systems affiliated with the community, plus, they came up with a great financing option."
At present, approximately 17-percent of U.S. physicians use computerized patient records, according to a study published by the New England Journal of Medicine in April 2009. However, that percentage is anticipated to increase dramatically as a result of the $19.2 billion earmarked for the HITECH Act – a part of the stimulus package, which was signed by President Obama in February 2009.
Though adopting EMR systems will be voluntary, there will be financial advantages for hospitals and physicians who implement them who participate in Medicare: Under the HITECH Act, starting in 2011, physicians who adopt "meaningful use" of certified EHRs are eligible to receive up to $44,000 in total incentives per physician from Medicare.
Dave Garets, president and CEO of HIMSS Analytics , a Chicago-based healthcare information technology company, is a healthcare analyst who has had 30 years of experience in the IT field. He said that partnerships like the one between Dell and eClinicalWorks are strategic and a good idea for larger corporations. "[By focusing on] acute care, as opposed to an ambulatory environment, it gets them into an area where there is, I think, more money to be made," he said.
"There are going to be larger organizations who have to have competence in a variety of areas in order to be competitive for the next five to 10 years. So, they're either going to acquire it or partner for it. There will be industry consolidation," Garets adds.