business

Health IT financing options expand

Vendors are offering funding to physicians, hoping to persuade them to buy electronic medical record systems.

By Pamela Lewis Dolan — Posted Jan. 22, 2010

Print  |   Email  |   Respond  |   Reprints  |   Like Facebook  |   Share Twitter  |   Tweet Linkedin

One technology company recently launched an electronic medical records financing program, while another program expanded in the expectation that physicians are looking for more affordable ways to adopt technology. And more offers are on the way.

IBM announced in December 2009 that its lending arm, IBM Global Financing, has entered into financing agreements with four major health information technology companies -- Siemens Healthcare, Lavender and Wyatt Systems Inc., Healthcare Management Systems Inc. and SCC Soft Computer -- to provide loans to hospitals, labs and physician practices adopting health IT systems.

Richard Dicks, general manager for IBM Global Financing in North America, said IBM's move is an attempt to help physicians adopt technology today while they wait for government funding. Incentives of up to $44,000 per physician under the federal stimulus package don't offer help with upfront costs. To qualify, physicians must already have the technology and be able to demonstrate meaningful use of it.

Since the introduction of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act last year, many technology vendors have begun offering financing options -- otherwise available only to hospitals -- to small physician practices. The programs are designed so payments are deferred until practices start collecting stimulus funds.

IBM will provide financing for a variety of clinical and practice management systems from the four vendors that use IBM technology. Eligible systems range from fully functional EMRs to health IT solutions for specialty practices. Financing also will be offered for IBM's infrastructure and health care consulting services when bundled with packages purchased by one of the four vendor partners.

GE Healthcare, one of the first health IT companies to offer physicians financing tied to stimulus funds, announced that it is expanding its financing program to include GE's Centricity Business Suite.

When it started the financing program in summer 2009, the company said it was making $100 million available for the program. It recently reported that it already has seen $140 million in sales financed through the program. The company said many customers were looking to move beyond EMRs and adopt health IT to help improve efficiencies in other areas of their practices. Therefore, it decided to expand the financing program to include nonclinical systems.

The latest entry into vendor financing is UnitedHealth Group-owned Ingenix, which plans to offer physicians zero-interest financing on its CareTracker product. The financing would be arranged through OptumHealth, a United-owned bank. Also, Allscripts-Misys Healthcare Solutions was expected to announce its own vendor financing program in January.

Back to top


ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISE HERE


Featured
Read story

Confronting bias against obese patients

Medical educators are starting to raise awareness about how weight-related stigma can impair patient-physician communication and the treatment of obesity. Read story


Read story

Goodbye

American Medical News is ceasing publication after 55 years of serving physicians by keeping them informed of their rapidly changing profession. Read story


Read story

Policing medical practice employees after work

Doctors can try to regulate staff actions outside the office, but they must watch what they try to stamp out and how they do it. Read story


Read story

Diabetes prevention: Set on a course for lifestyle change

The YMCA's evidence-based program is helping prediabetic patients eat right, get active and lose weight. Read story


Read story

Medicaid's muddled preventive care picture

The health system reform law promises no-cost coverage of a lengthy list of screenings and other prevention services, but some beneficiaries still might miss out. Read story


Read story

How to get tax breaks for your medical practice

Federal, state and local governments offer doctors incentives because practices are recognized as economic engines. But physicians must know how and where to find them. Read story


Read story

Advance pay ACOs: A down payment on Medicare's future

Accountable care organizations that pay doctors up-front bring practice improvements, but it's unclear yet if program actuaries will see a return on investment. Read story


Read story

Physician liability: Your team, your legal risk

When health care team members drop the ball, it's often doctors who end up in court. How can physicians improve such care and avoid risks? Read story