Updated March 27 at 6:35pm

Need to innovate driving change in health care IT

By Richard Asinof
Contributing Writer
It was big news in June when Partners HealthCare in Boston decided to abandon its own “homegrown solution” for IT software infrastructure in order to purchase an integrated software system from Epic, a privately held company based in Verona, Wis., with revenue of $1.2 billion in 2011. More

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Focus: HEALTH CARE

Need to innovate driving change in health care IT

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It was big news in June when Partners HealthCare in Boston decided to abandon its own “homegrown solution” for IT software infrastructure in order to purchase an integrated software system from Epic, a privately held company based in Verona, Wis., with revenue of $1.2 billion in 2011.

Partners, begun as a partnership between two prestigious academic medical centers, Massachusetts General Hospital and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, is considered a national trendsetter for health care innovation. Both flagship hospitals were ranked in the top 10 best hospitals by U.S. News & World Report in July, with Mass. General earning the top ranking.

Dr. David Blumenthal, the chief health information and innovation officer at Partners, told Providence Business News that the decision was made after a comprehensive review. The hospital’s current software system, he explained, “might perform well in one department, but it couldn’t knit the process across numerous facilities.”

Partners came to the conclusion, Blumenthal continued, that the Epic software package was “best for us, because it was a strong, integrated, single electronic health-information system. It created a platform on which we could innovate going forward, meeting our needs because of its integration, so that there will be one record for every patient.”

Blumenthal, who served as the former head of the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, said the new software system will position Partners for the future demands of health IT, population management and analytics. “That’s what we were looking for – a system to take us into the era of high-performance computing, as hospitals and providers take on more risk for quality and cost dimensions.”

Here in Rhode Island, both Lifespan and Care New England, the state’s two largest hospital networks, are paying careful attention. Lifespan is considering making a similar move, according to Gail Carvelli, a Lifespan spokeswoman. “It’s too early to talk about it now,” she said, indicating that Lifespan was in the process of evaluating different potential vendors.

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