Electronic Health Records

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athenahealth Reaches Health IT Partnership Deal with BIDMC

By Kyle Murphy, PhD

Cloud-based health IT developer athenahealth has given itself another foothold in the hospital market by by reaching a health IT partnership with Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

On Tuesday, the Watertown-based company announced that it had reached an agreement with the Boston medical center to purchase the self-built webOMR and with it the opportunity to test athenahealth’s acute care health IT services at BIDMC’s 58-bed hospital in Needham. Additionally, 38 primary care and specialty practices will have the chance to implement athenahealth’s cloud-based EHR revenue cycle management and patient engagement platform athenaOne.

Neither organization has spoken to the financial terms of the agreement at this time. A spokesperson for athenahealth has indicated that the collaboration will start immediately, with the research and development teams working together to get the inpatient version athenahealth-BIDMC inpatient platform up and running by the end of the year at the Needham site. When a product becomes commercially available is not yet known.

Last month, athenahealth acquired RazorInsights, a cloud-based EHR and financial management vendor specializing in working with critical access hospitals (CAHs) and similar facilities.

“These providers have been unable to afford the steep price tags of legacy software installations,” Jeremy Delinsky, Chief Technology Officer at athenahealth told EHRintelligence.com. “Our revenue model is closely tied to that of our customers; we don’t make money unless they succeed. We think this message will gain a lot of traction in the CAH market. From there, we will have room to climb upmarket.”

The deal with BIDMC now moves athenahealth toward the academic side of medical care, working with a healthcare organization in a unique position of having built and maintained its own proprietary system.

According to BIDMC CIO John Halamka, MD, MS, the medical center’s decision to sell its webOMR platform came as a result of realizing the work that goes into sustaining self-built systems even though it achieved certification for Stage 1 and Stage 2 Meaningful Use without issue.

“While we want to continue to innovate, we know that commercial vendors will be able to leverage their knowledge and capabilities to build future platforms at larger scale,” he writes on his personal blog, Life as a Healthcare CIO.

Apparently, the collaboration between BIDMC and athenahealth is the result of the two organizations sharing a similar vision for health IT based on web-based technologies and standards.

“The collaboration between the two organizations provides athenahealth the chance to take BIDMC’s experience to a much larger audience, hopefully making a difference to providers, patients, and payers across the country,” Halamka explains. “athenahealth will also accelerate its ability to develop expanded functionality more rapidly than doing it alone.”

Just as Halamka notes that he is receiving no compensation as a result of the collaboration, he also maintains that athenahealth is not guaranteed to be BIDMC’s only vendor or one at all.

“Over the next 5 years at BIDMC, we will select the best products and best services that meet the needs of our highly diverse network,” he continues. “athenahealth products will be piloted in outpatient and inpatient locations. We certainly hope that athenahealth produces excellent products but at BIDMC, we are a meritocracy and the best services at the lowest cost will win.”

That being said, the leadership at athenahealth is emphasizing the significant of this latest deal which aligns the company with one of the nation’s top healthcare facilities.

“Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center is the best at what they do; their accolades and reputation in care delivery and as an innovator are unmatched,” Chairman & CEO Jonathan Bush said in a public statement. “athenahealth’s vision for a fully connected health care ecosystem, and our experience and expertise, puts us in an enviable position to build a new class of care coordination services to solve the shortcomings of legacy software platforms that are failing to advance the state of health care across our country.”

The health IT company has some ground to make up on its competition in the hospital market. The latest Best of KLAS rankings has fallen behind Epic Systems for top EHR vendor after winning the title the year before.

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