GE’s health group joins the low financing foray

General Electric joined IBM, Dell/Perot Systems and others in announcing a low-financing program to doctors and hospitals so they can begin working on electronic medical records adoption.

GE’s Stimulus Simplicity program addresses some of the biggest barriers to EMR adoption, according to the company, by ensuring EMRs are certified and allowing customers access to interest-free loans, available with deferred payments.

The program will offer physicians and hospitals GE’s electronic medical records, GE Centricity EMR, and Centricity Enterprise solutions as part of the financing stipulations.

“Electronic medical records are designed to assist providers in improving patient outcomes, and reducing medical errors and costs,” Vishal Wanchoo, president and CEO of GE Healthcare IT, said in a statement. “However, significant financial barriers are making healthcare providers hesitant to adopt the technology,” Mr. Wanchoo continued.

Because most of the stimulus funds for EMRs will not be available until 2011, GE is one of a few industry heavyweights offering low-finance options. Last month, both IBM and Dell, in a partnership with Perot Systems, announced similar funding schemes.

IBM plans to bankroll up to $2 billion in Recvery Act IT initiatives in areas such as smart grid technology, health IT and rural broadband. Perot Systems will offer financing in conjunction with Dell Financial Services, but will focus exclusively on health-related projects and has not decided to put a cap or a floor on how much they’ll finance.

“It will be dependent on client demand. Our focus will be on multiple players who are eligible for funding – first hospitals and physician groups,” Tim Quigley, Perot Systems executive vice president in charge of marketing and sales for their health group, said.

Large capital investments and lose guidelines regarding EHR/EMR incentive payments are making small practices and facilities in rural areas and inner cities hesitant to implement the electronic records, Mr. Wanchoo said.

“GE’s zero-interest interim funding and certification warranty provide doctors, community health clinics and hospitals a bridge to qualifying for stimulus funds and faster access to the improved care available through electronic medical record use.”

GE Capital will make $100 million available to the program, which is part of GE’s healthymagination initiative, a $6 billion commitment to improve access, affordability and quality of healthcare.

The Eastern Kentucky-based Hazard Clinic is among the first to qualify for the program, according to GE. “The case for EMR is clear and convincing. Yet, as a community-based organization, we likely wouldn’t have been able to transform our record keeping without this offer,” said Stephanie Wooton, Hazard Clinic Administrator.