Blues plan invests $15M to boost docs' EMR use

Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina (BCBSNC) is investing $15 million to help providers adopt health information technology (HIT) tools and switch from paper to electronic medical records (EMRs).

North Carolina's largest insurer is collaborating with EMR developer Allscripts, which is investing $8 million, for the initiative known as the N.C. Program to Advance Technology for Health. Funds from the joint initiative will provide HIT-related software for more than 750 doctors and 39 free clinics throughout the state, reports the Charlotte Observer. The deal gives Allscripts exclusive rights to market its products to Blue Cross network doctors.

The initiative will cover 100 percent of upgrade costs for eligible free clinics and 85 percent of the cost for physicians and some independent practices for the first five years. The computer upgrades, including both hardware and software, also will allow the physicians to connect to the statewide health information exchange, according to the Triangle Business Journal. In addition, BCBSNC will provide training and support to help the providers implement and use the EMRs.

"Each patient's wellbeing is in the hands of many different doctors," BCBSNC CEO Brad Wilson said, adding that doctors often don't communicate with each other. "It's not going to happen in 30 days, but we have to start or we will not finish," Wilson said. "The healthier our customers are--the healthier the North Carolina citizenry--the better off we're all going to be."

Wilson and Allscripts officials said the EMRs should help improve quality of care, reduce medical errors, and eliminate wasteful tests, thereby reducing healthcare costs and leading to lower insurance premiums, WRAL reports. These improvements, along with Allscripts software that will recommend generic drugs and cheaper treatment options, will help BCBSNC recoup its $15 million investment.

To learn more:
- read the Charotte Observer article
- see the WRAL article
- check out the Triange Business Journal article

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