June 15, 2010, 2:27 PM — GE's Healthcare division today announced its first electronic medical record (EMR) product in a software-as-a-service (SaaS) platform aimed at small or remote physician practices with a lower-cost, monthly fee model.
GE Healthcare's Centricity Advance product offers a combination of EMR, physician administrative management and patient portals.
GE said the SaaS offering differs from a traditional hosted or application service provider model in that after a start-up fee of $4,000 to $9,000, customers are charged a monthly subscription fee, said Chittaranjan Mallipeddi, vice president and general manager of GE Healthcare IT's newly launched SaaS business unit.
"Most ASP models charge the customer a large upfront fee for the software purchase, followed by indefinite recurring hosting fees," Mallipeddi said. "The differences are subtle but critical."
The subscription-based EMR service generally runs between $300 and $800 per month, according to GE. The average cost to install an in-house EMR system is around $20,000 to $30,000, according to industry experts.
According to Mallipeddi, Centricity Advance can be deployed in under a month, including clinician training, which is conducted via a Web portal. Once deployed, physicians will be able to demonstrate "meaningful use" of their EMR in order to receive reimbursements under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, he said.
The new software service also offers a patient self-service portal, that allows patients to access their own personal medical records (PMR) through their own secure password in order to schedule their own appointments, request prescription refills or access billing statements, lab results and private messages from their clinicians.
GE's new SaaS-based EMR is based on software from recently acquired MedPlexus Inc., a vendor of Web-based administrative, financial and clinical software and services for physician practices.
Dr. Desiree Butter, a general practitioner with a family practice in Wexford, Penn., said she's been using MedPlexus's EMR since October 2004. She doesn't use it in a SaaS model, but sees advantages to that. For one, Butter said she often has software integration problems that a hosted model would eliminate because the service would be responsible for those kinds of issues.
For example, Butter uses a secure e-mail platform so that her patients can contact her over the Web. Since her EMR system does not offer the secure e-mail, her patients must use two separate Web pages, one for their medical records, and a second to communicate with their doctor.