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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.