HP EHReady Health Care Program a Boon for VARs?

By Leah Gabriel Nurik  |  Print this article Print

The HP EHReady program provides a full spectrum of services and solutions to hospitals and physicians moving to electronic health records. HP says it plans to rely on VARs for much of the work.

HP today unveiled a new health care program called HP EHReady focused on easing physicians’ and hospitals’ moves to electronic health records. HP said it plans to rely on its reseller community to achieve success in the EHR marketplace, and will help educate VARs, physicians and hospitals on success factors and best practices in the EHR arena.

The program offers services from records migration and management as well as financing and support to hospitals and their affiliated physicians. Solutions include hardware, software and support along with installation, setup and training services. The solutions can be customized for each medical practice and include a wide range of products from desktop PCs and workstations to notebook PCs, tablets and scanners.

The health care IT market is exploding, and anticipated to reach almost $74 billion this year alone. With HP promising to tap its wide network of VARs to fulfill hardware and services needs for EHR, that spells great news for VARs.

HP Healthcare Vice President Chris Mertens says that HP will provide what he calls "matchmaking services" for VARs looking for a go-to EHR software partner.  In the past, many VARs struggled to team with EHR vendors that traditionally shied away from relying on the reseller community for several reasons, Wes Rishel, Gartner vice president and distinguished analyst for health care, told ChannelInsider back in January.

"It [the sales cycle] is a long process and a big process—it is millions in software and more in services," said Rishel. "With that kind of a sales cycle, there is so much at risk with failing to do the implementation well, the vendors are pretty cautious. And, they can afford the salespeople."

Mertens says that reality is changing, and HP has already signed up a number of EHR vendors such as McKesson in co-marketing and referral relationships aimed at teaming software vendors with VARs across the country, and plans to announce relationships with three more software vendors shortly. However, VARs wishing to stay away from complicated EHR implementations are not entirely out of the medical records game. There are a variety of value-added services and hardware fulfillment activities required to make the successful move to EHR.

Mertens says HP knows how crucial the reseller community is to HP’s success in the EHR market, and the company has done its homework in the form of roundtables with physicians across the country, among other things.

"Physicians tell us they want to buy locally," says Mertens.

Here’s how it works. VARs team up with HP to market the program directly to the hospital or physician office. If HP generates a lead, it will pass the deal to the VAR. Mertens says most of HP’s recent wins have gone through VARs and will continue to do so.

HP will provide financing options to the hospitals and physicians in an effort to ease the monetary burden of implementing the solution. The EHReady solution includes financing options, HP-branded hardware and an array of services like site assessment, training, integration and support services designed to help physicians take full advantage of the system and meet "meaningful use" guidelines as outlined in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.  

As of today, the Department of Health and Human Services provides only a limited definition of what meaningful use means, and plans to release a more detailed definition of how hospitals and physicians will need to demonstrate the value of the EHR system in order to receive the additional subsidies provided by the government this fall. The lack of government definition around meaningful use is frustrating many solution providers in the health care market.

HP has made no secret of its desire to grow its managed services business, but, at this point, HP is offering no managed services component as part of this program and its efforts in the EHR arena. Mertens says this is a conscious decision as HP "did not want to detract from what the partners are providing."

The federal stimulus bill passed last year is the main driver for the move to electronic medical records. The "pay for performance" federal incentives are rapidly motivating doctors and hospitals that have not yet done so to move to electronic health systems.  Organizations that make the investment will enjoy higher incentive payments on Medicare and Medicaid beginning in 2011. Organizations that do not move to an EHR system will suffer penalties, beginning in 2015.