Big health IT, supply vendors prepare for the flood

March 9, 2007

Much of the talk at the recent HIMSS conference in New Orleans concerned the opportunity for vendors to sell ambulatory EHRs to hospitals that want to gift their physicians under the new Stark exception. Because private-practice physicians usually don?t like the outpatient versions of inpatient EHRs, some of the big hospital IT vendors are acquiring or partnering with firms that have good track records in the ambulatory market. For example, McKesson recently bought Per-Se Technologies, which includes the Medisoft and Lytec practice management systems used mainly in small offices, and Practice Partner, a Seattle-based EHR company that specializes in small and medium-sized practices. Eclipsys has partnered with athenahealth, which hosts PM and EHR software. And GE is already well positioned with the ambulatory EHR it got with its MedicaLogic purchase a few years ago.

Much of the talk at the recent HIMSS conference in New Orleans concerned the opportunity for vendors to sell ambulatory EHRs to hospitals that want to gift their physicians under the new Stark exception. Because private-practice physicians usually don't like the outpatient versions of inpatient EHRs, some of the big hospital IT vendors are acquiring or partnering with firms that have good track records in the ambulatory market. For example, McKesson recently bought Per-Se Technologies, which includes the Medisoft and Lytec practice management systems used mainly in small offices, and Practice Partner, a Seattle-based EHR company that specializes in small and medium-sized practices. Eclipsys has partnered with athenahealth, which hosts PM and EHR software. GE is already well positioned with the ambulatory EHR it got with its MedicaLogic purchase a few years ago. And Siemens has a partnership with NextGen.

Meanwhile, medical products suppliers are also jumping on the trend, trying to use their physician connections and sales forces to flog EHRs to practices. McKesson is one of the major hospital suppliers; another one, Amerisource Bergen, is joining hands with Allscripts, according to Allscripts CEO Glen Tullman. On the ambulatory side, Henry Schein recently bought the MicroMD PM system, interfacing it with the Cliniflow EHR, and PSS is selling Greenway EHRs.