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Squeezing Costs Through Technology

   May 01, 2016

As part of the agreement, UTMC will partner with athenahealth to develop athenaClinicals for Hospitals & Health Systems, an extension of the vendor's existing EHR, athenaClinicals. The University of Toledo Physician Group has used athenahealth's ambulatory EHR since 2014.

In doing so, UTMC will retire its use of an inpatient McKesson-based EHR. McKesson is in the process of migrating all customers of that EHR to McKesson's newer offering, which is certified for meaningful use, unlike the older offering.

"Their new EHR is sufficiently different from their old one so that it wasn't just a tweak or an upgrade," says UTMC CEO David Morlock. "Now is a good time to go look at all of our options, so we kicked the tires on a variety of options and landed on athenahealth, because I think it's the best combination of our mindset and outlook coupled with patient care quality aspects like low cap-ex, low op-ex, interoperability—all of those key elements."

The inpatient athenahealth technology in question is just finding its footing in the commercial marketplace. It represents the marriage of athenahealth's ambulatory software with webOMR, inpatient software acquired in 2015 from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center—which continues to use the software as it is commercialized—as well as software acquired along with the cloud-based EHR assets of RazorInsights.

The UTMC/athenahealth joint effort will focus on creating a seamless physician and nurse user experience for academic medical centers. Research will focus on acute care workflows to identify areas for operational improvement, and then design and build service capabilities to support those workflows. UTMC kicked off its planning process in January 2016, and hopes to be live with the athenahealth product by mid-2017.

While Morlock declined to give specific numbers for the cost savings, he says he expects that by going to the cloud-based athenahealth product—versus continuing with a traditional EHR such as McKesson, Epic, or Cerner—represents a difference of multiple millions of dollars.

Scott Mace is the former senior technology editor for HealthLeaders Media. He is now the senior editor, custom content at H3.Group.

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