ACP Helps Launch Free Web Site for EHR Shopping

July 13, 2010

July 13, 2010 — The American College of Physicians (ACP) and a Canadian company today launched a free Web site called AmericanEHR Partners, where physicians can take their first steps toward purchasing an electronic health record (EHR) system.

At the Web site, physicians can assess their readiness to go digital, view user ratings of EHR systems, narrow down their choices based on medical subspecialty and desired features, generate side-by-side comparisons, and contact their top vendors for more information. The Web site also will strive to be an online learning community by offering blogs, webinars, podcasts, and newsletters.

The launch comes just as physicians are eyeing 2011, the first year in which they can qualify for federal incentive payments for "meaningful use" of EHRs under Medicare and Medicaid. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services released a final version of its meaningful-use requirements today.

The ACP's partner in the new Web site is Cientis Technologies, based in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

The ACP has offered online help to EHR shoppers before, but targeted at the college's members. In contrast, AmericanEHR Partners is designed for all clinicians in the EHR era. In addition to the ACP, the following medical societies are participating in the initiative so far:

  • American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology

  • American College of Rheumatology

  • American Osteopathic Association of Medical Informatics

  • American Psychiatric Association

  • Infectious Diseases Society of America

  • Renal Physicians Association

  • Society of General Internal Medicine

Michael Barr, MD, the ACP's vice president of practice advocacy and improvement, told Medscape Medical News that AmericanEHR Partners welcomes the participation of organizations representing not only surgical specialists but also nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and anyone else who uses an EHR. Casting a broad net, said Dr. Barr, will make the Web site more useful because participating societies will survey members about how satisfied they are with their particular EHR system. AmericanEHR Partners, in turn, will transform survey data into product ratings. Only EHR systems certified by the Certification Commission for Health Information Technology or any similar organization approved by the US Department of Health and Human Services will be rated.

"Once other societies join us, we could have one of the largest databanks on customer satisfaction with EHRs in the country," said Dr. Barr.

Web Site Will Limit Vendor Influence on Educational Content

The new online EHR resource also welcomes vendors, although AmericanEHR Partners is quick to note that it does not endorse any particular EHR product or service. So-called participating vendors can post detailed information about their products on the Web site, as long as they are certified. Those EHR data will appear in side-by-side product comparisons that visitors can generate.

Participating vendors must pay an annual fee of $7200, which covers the cost of creating and updating product profiles and comparisons and managing any requests for information clinicians may submit via the Web site. So far, 16 vendors, including some of the most well-known in the EHR marketplace, have come aboard.

EHR vendors also can purchase advertising on the Web site — another source of funding. However, AmericanEHR Partners aims to limit the influence of vendors regarding educational material, said Dr. Barr. Partnering medical societies as well as the American Health Information Management Association will contribute editorial content. All advertising must be labeled as such and not passed off as objective information.

"We want to make the site as credible as possible," said Dr. Barr.

One important educational opportunity is a free webinar on August 4 at 7 pm EST about the new federal meaningful-use requirements for EHRs. It will feature David Blumenthal, MD, national coordinator for health information technology at the Department of Health and Human Services, and Michael Zaroukian, MD, chief medical information officer for Michigan State University. To register, visit the AmericanEHR Web site.

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