PACeHR Selects Technology Partners to Accelerate Arizona's Physician EHR Adoption and Maximize ARRA Stimulus Funds

PHOENIX--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The Purchasing & Assistance Collaborative for Electronic Health Records (PACeHR) today announced the selection of e-MDs and Noteworthy Medical Systems, Inc. as technology partners to provide accessible and affordable electronic health records (EHR) to small and medium-sized physician group practices in Arizona. The partner agreement will help drive EHR adoption and, thereby, assist physician practices in qualifying for American Recovery & Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) stimulus funds, as well as strengthen the foundation for statewide health information exchange (HIE).

"The PACeHR program to stimulate physician EMR adoption is an important investment in improving healthcare quality and containing costs," said Wes Rishel, Gartner healthcare analyst. "You can't manage what you can't measure, and it is impractical to measure data that is locked up in paper charts."

Nearly 95 percent of primary care is delivered in practices with less than five physicians and virtually 100 percent in groups of 10 or fewer physicians, according to Health Services Advisory Group Inc. (HSAG), a quality improvement organization based in Phoenix. HSAG estimates that only 4 percent to 9 percent of the state's nearly 7,000 primary care physicians are automated. To address this gap, PACeHR, a Phoenix-based non-profit organization comprised of medical practices and other stakeholders, was established to advance EHR adoption using web-based technologies, economies of scale and strategic partnering.

According to Anita Murcko, M. D., PACeHR project director, the technology partners e-MDs and Noteworthy were selected by a panel consisting of 16 clinicians, in addition to Gartner analysts and legal and business experts, who evaluated 14 vendors during a six month evaluation process.

"Physicians will be much more confident in their EHR purchases knowing that the PACeHR selection panel included clinicians who evaluated the EHR solutions based on a host of criteria including scalability, interoperability and long-term use," said panel member Anil Goud, M.D., an internist and hospitalist at a 14-doctor internal medicine group in Phoenix. "Many smaller practices have not yet digitized because of cost, fear of buying the wrong system, and concern that vendors will ignore their needs once the contract is signed."

Under the partner agreement, all licensed healthcare providers are eligible to subscribe to web-based EHRs and practice management solutions from e-MDs or Noteworthy. Early adopters that subscribe prior to July 1, 2010 will benefit from expanded assistance from PACeHR to meet and apply for ARRA stimulus funds.

Added Goud, "When you are a small practice, you are at the mercy of the vendor as to the timing of implementation, upgrades, support and their willingness to listen to technology enhancement requests. As a large purchasing group, PACeHR ensures that small and medium-sized physician practices will have equal access to vendors and receive excellent service. Additionally, the collaborative organization provides the opportunity for groups using the same technology to share and promote best practices to improve quality of care, patient safety and administrative efficiencies."

"e-MDs' and Noteworthy's web products met our core functional requirements and demonstrated rapid deployability, affordability and overall ease of use," said Murcko, who is also medical director for informatics at the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System, the state's Medicaid agency. "Coupled with their commitment to collaboration and development, e-MDs' and Noteworthy's CCHIT Certified® solutions offer practices the modularity, flexibility and scalability needed to meet the distinct needs of each practice for today and tomorrow."

"In addition to targeting primary care practices, we are also reaching out to community clinics and long-term care, behavioral health and correctional facilities serving the uninsured and other special populations," said Roger A. Hughes, PACeHR's board president and executive director of St. Luke's Health Initiatives, a public foundation in Phoenix. "Every physician practice and care provider organization is unique and PACeHR is committed to offering participants the technology options that best suit their needs."

To date, 10 Arizona practices representing 30 clinicians have signed letters of intent to purchase EHRs through the PACeHR program. Two physician practices will go live by the end of the year and the remainder will complete EHR deployment during the first half of 2010.

About PACeHR

The Purchasing & Assistance Collaborative for Electronic Health Records (PACeHR) is a non-profit organization incorporated to accelerate EHR adoption by small and medium-sized physician group practices in Arizona. Acting on behalf of participating medical practices and other stakeholders, PACeHR leverages web-based technologies, economies of scale and strategic partnering to foster effective implementation and use of affordable, interoperable EHR systems to improve quality, safety and efficiency, and promote a community of information sharing. For more information, visit http://www.azhealtherecord.gov/PACeHR/Default.aspx.

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