Vendors take to the highways to promote EHRs

Remember the "EHR Stimulus Tour"--the campaign led by EHR vendor Allscripts-Misys Healthcare Solutions and seven other big IT firms that attempted to educate half a million U.S. physicians about the health IT provisions in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act? The tour is in full swing now, and Advance for Health Information Professionals sent a reporter and a camera crew out on the road.

Thirteen stops into the tour, Allscripts CEO Glen Tullman says the alliance has reached some 250,000 physicians, including 50,000 in the targeted regions and the rest by webcast or direct mail. "People want to be educated about this stuff, and they have been both supportive and excited about the efforts," Tullman told the magazine. When you're talking about marketing outreach and direct mail, it's probably fair to assume that a fairly substantial portion of that total ignored the pitch, but I don't think any vendor really thought they'd capture a two-thirds share of the physician market for anything.

For its logo, the tour is using an image of a luxury motorcoach bus with the words "EHR Stimulus Tour" PhotoShopped onto the side, since there isn't actually a tour bus. But open-source EHR purveyor Medsphere Systems has a real vehicle--an old VW bus painted like a surf wagon--to reflect the company's Orange County, CA, roots. Like the EHR Stimulus bunch, Medsphere is taking this ride, dubbed "Stimulus One," around the country to promote its own product. (Advance includes a well-known photo of the plucky Medsphere van being dwarfed by a Cerner semi-trailer.)

Not to feel left out, PHR vendor PassportMD is taking an RV around the southwest to show off its product to an older audience at hospitals, pharmacies, healthcare conventions and senior centers, bringing TV personality Joan Lunden along for the ride at some stops. There's no word on whether any of these groups is selling tour t-shirts.

To read more about what happens at these tour stops and see a video from the EHR Stimulus Tour:
- click through to the Advance story