Technology firms have stepped forward to join the campaign to boost electronic health record systems. The AAFP’s Partners for Patients initiative unexpectedly received declarations of support from more than 20 companies stating how they also recognize the need to improve health care delivery in the United States. In reality, it’s not much of a surprise that technology companies have jumped onto the bandwagon to earn the title of leading supporter and provider, due in part to the great benefits and revenue they could possibly gain in the long-run.
Vice President for socioeconomic affairs and policy analysis of AAFP states: “The growing support of a wide array of companies is encouraging because we’ve never had IT vendors calling us saying, ‘we want to work with you.’ The IT vendor community is finally paying attention to family physicians.”
When President Obama first released his American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009, it was the technology innovation leaders who supported him firsthand. By creating a coalition of leaders in the field of technology, called the EHR Stimulus Alliance, Allscripts, an established company, aims to educate physicians about the opportunities brought in by the ARRA. The Alliance consists of top-notch companies Allscripts, Cisco, Citrix,Dell, Intel, Intuit, Microsoft Corp., and Nuance.
In line with their goal, the Alliance has sponsored an EHR Stimulus tour, an education program consisting of planned virtual and physical events across cities in the U.S. in partnership with Alliance, experts and medical groups who had previously adopted the EHR system. The tour intends to provide answers to physicians’ worries through the use of executive briefings, roundtables, trade show presentations, webcasts, and local meetings.
Despite the stimulus package offered by federal government to provide the funds and incentives, physicians still have to pay the upfront costs first before they receive the incentive payments. For most physicians that would be the catch they just can’t simply afford. This prohibits them from acquiring EHR as they constantly debate among themselves whether the potential improvements could outweigh the costs.
However, several individual companies were already one step ahead as they drafted a solution to address this dilemma. Most applications developed recently for the EHR can be accessed using Web browsers on local PCs. Among these limited companies are eClinicalWorks, IBM, and to follow suit next year is General Electric.
Despite these companies’ main agenda to gain more income, it still remains as a win-win situation for both parties. IT vendors get their income and boost their reputation, while physicians and health care are finally heard and recognized.
As of recent study published last year in the New England Journal of Medicine, about 17% already of U.S. physician are using EHR. The federal economic stimulus package announced earlier this year is focussed on increasing that percentage with a $19 billion investment in EHR adoption.
Still in the end, what matters most is how the formed coalition among IT communities, government, and health care play a huge role in promoting quality of health in the United States.