EHR alliance to help physicians adopt IT

By Eric Wicklund
10:40 AM

A group of well-known healthcare IT vendors have launched a joint effort to educate physicians across the country on the benefits of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

The “EHR Stimulus Alliance” is designed to convince the nation’s 500,000 physicians that embracing healthcare IT will help meet President Barack Obama’s goals of improving healthcare quality, safety and efficiency.

“Encouraging every physician to use electronic health records is essential to achieving President Obama’s goal of a safer, higher quality healthcare system at a price we can afford,” said Glen Tullman, CEO of Allscripts-Misys Healthcare Solutions. “The EHR Stimulus Alliance marks a major step forward in helping more physicians to understand their options for entering the electronic healthcare highway.”

Led by Chicago-based Allscripts, the group consists of Cisco, Citrix, Dell, Intel, Intuit, Microsoft and Nuance. The group will sponsor ‘The EHR Stimulus Tour,” an education program featuring hundreds of events – both live and virtual – in cities across the United States. Those events will include round-table discussions, executive briefings, trade show presentations, Web casts and local meetings.

“We have long believed that deployment of standards-based IT technologies can streamline processes and create efficiencies in healthcare, ultimately providing the highest quality of care at the lowest cost,” said Louis Burns, general manager of Santa Clara, Calif.-based Intel’s Digital Health Group. “The Allscripts Stimulus Alliance provides an opportunity for our industry to work with physicians, understand their unique needs and provide them the information they need to deploy electronic health records and
e-prescribing technologies today.”

The May 14 announcement was the second of two efforts to help physicians become better acquainted with federal efforts to improve healthcare IT adoption. On May 12, the Detroit-based Compuware Corp. joined forces with the Association of Medical Directors of Information Systems (AMDIS) to launch www.meaningfuluse.org, a Web site to promote the national dialogue around the “meaningful use” definition that will be used to define allocation of HITECH Stimulus funds.

ARRA offers physicians financial incentives of between $44,000 and $64,000 for adopting and demonstrating “meaningful use” of an EHR beginning in 2011. Those incentives will remain in place for five years, after which the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services can reduce Medicare reimbursements by as much as 3 percent for physicians who don’t adopt a certified EHR system. Analysts say this “carrot and stick” approach could spur up to 90 percent of the nation’s doctors to jump on the EHR bandwagon over the next decade.

Alliance members point to recent surveys that indicate physicians know about ARRA, but lack information on how they can use it to their advantage.

“The EHR Stimulus Alliance is a unified movement toward turning the national dialogue surrounding the EHR transition into action,” said John Shagoury, president of Burlington, Mass.-based Nuance Healthcare, which offers speech recognition technology. “Each of the partners involved has unique solutions that are crucial to EHR implementation.”