While many clients understand the potential benefits EHRs hold for safer, cheaper and more efficient health care, several unanswered questions remain. The Obama Administration through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) is offering up billions of dollars in federal spending and incentives to encourage EHR adoption. Lacking is a timeline for reimbursements or a way to precisely demonstrate effective and meaningful use.
The result is a financing gap: the time between when a hospital, lab or medical practice must shell out millions of dollars to introduce the system into their process and the time it takes for federal funds to materialize and for practice and hospital administrators to be repaid. This breach is especially difficult for smaller community hospitals and medical groups, under greater pressure to manage costs.
"Customers of electronic health care records solutions soon realize that while health IT technology is necessary, it's also expensive", stated Richard Dicks, general manager for North America, IBM Global Financing. "Costs have today become a non-technological barrier to health IT adoption. It's a chicken and egg scenario facing medical providers. Many are waiting for government funding working its way through the system, but need the benefits of the technology today. Technology financing helps speed up implementation in a more cost-effective manner."
According to IT analyst firm Ovum, with the addition of Siemens Healthcare, Lavender and Wyatt and Healthcare Management Systems, IBM Global Financing has strengthened its already leading position as financier to health IT vendors in the marketplace today. Ovum expects more health IT companies to add financing to their go-to-market strategies since it helps customers manage costs and accelerate deployment in advance of the deadlines set by the United States Government. Today, IBM provides thousands of health care clients and partners with technology hardware, middleware and services that accompany EHR applications.
"IBM Global Financing's strategic financing relationships with market-leading EHR providers, combined with IBM's health care services and software, is helping medical professionals use technology to uncover new ways to reduce errors, spot trends, improve patient care, and gather new insights into how to keep people healthier", stated Dan Pelino, general manager, IBM Global Healthcare & Life Sciences Industry. "IBM provides a complete set of health care solutions to solve the complex problems facing the industry today with consultation and readiness assessment services, integration, analytics, storage, security and now financing."
IBM Global Financing (IGF) will now provide financing for Siemens clinical and revenue cycle management applications, including INVISION, MedSeries4 and Soarian. IBM infrastructure and health care consulting services can also be financed and packaged as part of the solution. The combination of Siemens leading health care information systems with IBM's transformation services, infrastructure and financing will help health systems plan, implement and effectively adopt these complex solutions.
"Siemens Healthcare knows first-hand how important financing has become to helping hospitals, physician practices and specialty clinics bridge the financial gap and match costs to benefits while implementing new solutions under the ARRA's HITECH provision", stated Joe Gaetano, vice president, Siemens Healthcare ARRA Programme Office. "It goes without saying that IBM Global Financing is a key part of the funding solutions we are proud to offer our customers."
Lavender and Wyatt Systems Inc. (LWSI) is an enterprise software solutions company focused on behavioural health providers. Most of its clients are 501(c)'s not-for-profit, community behavioural health agencies. Over the past nine months LWSI has signed up several new behavioural health care providers that are leveraging IBM Global Financing's private technology funding offerings to help them jump-start their EHR implementations.
"Even at the niche level, financing is key", stated Brad Feller, President, Lavender and Wyatt Systems Inc. "Many of our clients have seen reduced funding from public and private sources, but still understand the need to start implementing solutions today. We feel that helping our clients connect the dots between federal grants and loans, charity pricing and IBM Global Financing options stretches their dollars available for LWSI's Essentia solution."
LWSI provides an IGF quote with every proposal that includes projected monthly payments to make it easier for customers to act now and get a step up on the benefits gained by EHRs.
Nashville-based Healthcare Management Systems (HMS) is a provider of financial and clinical software solutions, including a fully integrated electronic medical health care records solution, to under 250-bed regional and community hospitals. One of its solutions, HMS Patient Care Documentation is a fully-integrated, multi-disciplinary clinician application that allows for on-line patient charting with increased organisation and navigation capabilities.
"IBM Global Financing will be a key partner in helping HMS' hospital-clients attain meaningful use criteria in a timely fashion", stated Mike Freeman, senior vice-president of sales.
SCC Soft Computer is one of the leading and most widely recognized providers of clinical information management systems for the health care IT industry. SCC is at the forefront of laboratory, genetics, blood services, outreach, pharmacy, and radiology information systems software development and offers full suites of Web-enabled clinical information management system solutions that enable SCC clients to do more in less time and effort.
IBM Global Financing, the financing business segment of IBM and the world's premier single-source provider for IT financing solutions, serves commercial clients ranging from small businesses to the majority of the Fortune 100. With assets of $34 billion worldwide, IGF provides project financing, commercial financing and asset-recovery services to 125.000 clients in more than 50 countries. More IBM news is available in this VMW issue's article Saving lives with SMS for life.