Dell might not be the first firm that leaps to mind when you think “high-tech medical practices” but maybe it should be: the company just introduced an all-in-one system for making digital medical records cheap and easy for doctors, called Practice Fusion.
Digital medical records bring a host of benefits over their older paper-based ancestors, not the least of which is easy data sharing between your local physician and hospital-based specialists, and the abolition of illegible (and demonstrably dangerous) doctors’ handwriting. But electronic medical records (EMR) systems don’t necessarily come cheap. And that’s why Dell and Practice Fusion are targeting the lowest common denominator with their new all-in-one EMR system–they’re aiming at the small medical practices that make up “80 percent” of the U.S. medical practitioner landscape.
For their cash, doctors in these smaller practices get a Dell PC with a printer, scanner and networking, and also a laptop for taking the data on the road. The hardware is tuned up to work pretty much directly out of the box with Practice Fusion’s free Web-based EMR solution. There’re also other sweeteners like three months interest-free financing on orders for “qualified users” and “Assistance with EMR training and setting up e-prescribing, lab connections and a Personal Health Record portal for patients.” Obviously Dell is chasing the long tail of revenue by getting users bought into its particular hardware solution, but it also seems genuinely like the computer manufacturing giant is keen to aid doctors switch over to a more modern and efficient patient record-keeping system.
This can only be a good thing, as one perhaps-unexpected benefit of digital medical record-keeping is that it can significantly boost research into cures and patterns of treatment for medical conditions, since clinical researchers can get much faster access to detailed data on patients.