Vendors get creative in chasing stimulus sales

It's probably an unfair characterization of EMR vendors to say that the vultures are swarming, but that's kind of what's happening. The battle certainly is on to sell products and services to the 80 percent or more of healthcare providers that still rely on dead trees to document patient encounters.

Computer-maker Dell has joined the fray, teaming up with eClinicalWorks and Perot Systems and working with large health systems to reach the vast, untapped market for small practices. Telecommunications giant Verizon has detailed 500 employees to its relatively new healthcare unit in hopes of providing the high-speed Internet connection to deliver remotely hosted EMRs.

The most recent salvo comes from an established vendor, the plucky but well-connected athenahealth. This week, the Watertown, MA-based EMR and practice services company said it would guarantee that its clinical IT customers would qualify for Medicare or Medicaid subsidies when the federal incentive program begins in 2011, or athenahealth wouldn't charge for the first six months of service.

For more information:
- see this New York Times story on vendor activity
- check out this Reuters piece about athenahealth's guarantee