Sutter Health subsidizing EHRs for independent docs

Independent Northern California physicians who want to make the move into electronic health records (EHRs) may be able to get an assist from Sutter Health, a 24-hospital network, which pledged $50 million this week to link them to its EHR system.

Under its Sutter Community Connect program, regional hospital corporations within the Sutter Health not-for-profit network will make in-kind donations to qualifying independent physicians that cover up to 85 percent of software and related implementation costs, reports the San Francisco Business Times.

The action is likely to impact physicians practicing in the more than 100 Northern California communities that Sutter serves, according to Becker's Hospital Review.

The Sutter Community Connect will provide a full software suite that includes an EHR for clinical care management, plus software applications for registration, scheduling, and billing. The complete EHR is 2011/2012 compliant, and has been certified by the Certification Commission for Health Information Technology (CCHIT), an ONC-ATCB, in accordance with the applicable certification criteria for eligible providers and hospitals.

Sutter Physician Services, a health care management and administrative services arm of Sutter Health, will oversee the roll out of Sutter Community Connect beginning this summer.

Sutter Health already has installed an Epic-based EHR system in each of its medical foundations. Sutter's EHR today connects more than 12,000 caregivers serving more than one million patients in Northern California. Nearly 450,000 patients use Sutter's online service -- My Health Online -- to partner with their physicians with their healthcare, according to a Sutter news release.

"To truly reinvent care, we see an imperative to connect as many physicians across our network as possible by extending an EHR option to community doctors in independent practice," Jeff Burnich, MD, senior vice president and executive officer of the Sutter Medical Network, said in a statement.

For more information:
- read the San Francisco Business Times article
- see the Becker's Hospital Review article
- see the Sutter Health news release

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