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Meaningful use and budget HIT at Costco: An EHR roundup

EHR implementation is on the rise. That much is clear. More and more doctors are demonstrating the ever-important “meaningful use” required to collect their share of the $1 billion the federal government is apparently planning on handing out to hospitals and practices by the end of this year.

The reason for that? According to the previously-linked article:

“They are not doing it just because of the money. They are doing it because meaningful use is aligned with what they mean to do,” says Farzad Mostashari, MD, the national coordinator for health IT.

Mostashari is also quoted in the article as saying, “Five thousand to 10,000 providers a month are registering for meaningful use, and 6,000 providers are signing up each month for assistance from the regional extension center. RECs now have 79,000 providers registered, mostly solo practitioners or small practices.”

The Health Foundation of South Florida has also given a grant to the Institute for Child and Family Health to implement an EHR solution for their behavioral health services department. It’s one example of the non-“meaningful use” drive to go electronic.

Things seem to be rolling along quite nicely for meaningful use, its proponents and its benefactors. Add to all this the fact that some vendors are donating EHR software to underserved areas and that new jobs are being created in the burgeoning healthcare IT sector, and we’ve got ourselves a happy little situation in HIT land.

Speaking of HIT land, it just got a little bigger with the decision by Costco to start selling select Allscripts EHR/EMR solutions in their stores, with a price break for doctors. So the next time your podiatrist is picking up a pallet of toilet paper and a new LED flat screen for the office, he can stop by the software aisle and grab an electronic medical records solution.


It’s not the first time EHR software has been sold at a big box store – WalMart tried carrying an eClinical Works and Dell bundle in 2009, which was discontinued after only a few months. But clearly Costco isn’t fazed by the precedent, according to the article.

Harkening back to last week’s post, this creates another fascinating example of healthcare technology entering our personal lives. It’s not a bad thing – we’re all for making technology that enriches our lives more accessible to those who need it. It’s just wild to think what was once considered inaccessible data to many (in health records) is now making its way onto our smart phones and next to our 5-gallon buckets of barbecue sauce. Allscripts and Costco feel like it’s a good idea; but given the precedent, do you think it will work?

There were several partnerships announced recently – one between Microsoft and GE and another between Qualcomm Life and Hello Health®. The Microsoft/GE deal brings together select parts of both giants’ offerings, including Microsoft’s Amalga and GE’s popular Centricity Practice Solution. It’s a huge joint venture that brings together two major players, and it will be exciting to see how they each leverage their own strengths. According to the above-referenced article, the two “will market an open-source technology platform and develop clinical applications with a focus on interoperability of health data and advanced analytics.” Microsoft plans on handling the data gathering with its powerful Amalga platform, and GE the EMR side of things with Centricity.

The Qualcomm/Hello Health® deal focuses on patient-centered healthcare. Mobile sensors attached to patients will be able to monitor patient well-being and obedience to prescribed treatments, and transfer the information to Hello Health®’s cloud-based patient management platform as part of the patient’s individual EHR. Patients can even set wellness goals in the integrated Hello Health WellBox™. The companies hope it will get patients more involved with their healthcare, and one more example of a trend we’ve seen quite a bit of lately.