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Electronic Medical Records - Spotlight on GE Healthcare

GE Healthcare has come a long way from its 1893 roots as Victor Electric Co., which manufactured dental engines and beer pumps. From the rise of x-ray imaging in World War II through the rampant medical mergers and acquisitions of the 1980s, the group that became GE Medical (ultimately GE Healthcare) emerged as a medical diagnostics powerhouse.


By the 21st century, GE understood that electronic medical records would become critical throughout the healthcare world. Thus in 2006, the company acquired healthcare software firm IDX Systems and re-released IDX’s products under the brand name Centricity. Most recently, GE has been working to integrate more titles and functionality under the Centricity umbrella, spanning clinical, financial, and administrative tasks.


Previously, we gave a brief overview of the Electronic Medical Record (EMR) field, outlining what it is and why it’s important. This time, we’re going to spotlight GE Healthcare’s Centricity platform as an example of the EHR field, spotlighting what EHR buyers can expect and the sorts of questions they should be asking while developing their own EHR strategies.


Platform Overview


Healthcare software platforms generally divide into two target groups: in-patient (patients who check into the facility) and ambulatory (patients who walk or wheel in and back out). Centricity Practice Solution (CPS) combines the old IDX Millbrook Practice Manager with GE’s Centricity EMR. CPS falls into the latter category, and can accommodate operations ranging from single-doctor practices to 100- to 200-provider clinics, including an unlimited number of patients, clerical staff, administrators, and so on. Naturally, the hardware required to run the platform will depend on the provider load in the system.


CPS targets four key areas that should interest anyone exploring EMR platforms: EMRs, practice management, financial management, and analytics. The EMR segment is somewhat self-explanatory. Digital documents capture such data as lab results and diagnoses, plus they can assist with electronic ordering and prescribing. If implemented properly, the EMR should render the paper record totally obsolete.


Practice management and financial management offer a fair amount of overlap. Much of practice management revolves around scheduling and the difficult art of getting patients in for appointments in an orderly, dependable fashion and ensuring that the proper doctors will be there ready to see them. Obviously, those patients need to be billed once they’ve been seen. Financial management then follows and guides accounting and managers through billing and collection.


“The analytic piece of CPS lets you measure your practice against both government regulations and other providers,” says Justin Steinman, general manager of GE Healthcare IT. “There’s a new program called Meaningful Use, where you can receive payments from the government for adopting electronic medical records. You can use the analytics functionality in CPS to benchmark and prove to the government that you are using EMR. You also can use the analytics functionality to benchmark yourself against other providers of similar size and shape to your practice."


This analytics component dovetails with a massive database from the Medical Quality Improvement Consortium (MDIQ). This represents over 500 providers that together have contributed over 30 million de-identified patient records. CPS users can compare their own internal data against this database and extract a wide range of useful conclusions. For example, if a doctor wanted to know whether the rate of diabetes in his practice was higher or lower than normal, he could benchmark his practice against other practices according to a wide range of criteria from throughout the MDIQ customer base.


CPS is available as a licensed product wherein the user pays GE Healthcare a maintenance subscription. Additionally, licensees can elect either to run the platform locally or as a hosted service, depending on how much infrastructure they want to maintain and the balance of capex/opex desired in their finances. The hardware requirements for CPS are not inordinate. For instance, the Dedicated Database Server can handle up to 50 users on at least a dual-processor Xeon E5520, 16 GB RAM, and six-disk SAS RAID 10 platform.

By Williams Van Winkle

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