IBM Expands Financing Options For Electronic Health Record Partners


IBM, in an announcement this week, said it had entered into agreements with Siemens Healthcare, Lavender & Wyatt Systems, Healthcare Management Systems and SCC Soft Computer, allowing them to leverage IBM Global Financing services to offer "competitive-rate financing" for their customers, including hospitals, medical practices and labs.

The move should help spur sales of EHR systems, many of which are sold through solution providers that focus on the health-care industry. IBM sells IT infrastructure and services that work with the EHR software, such as Siemens' Invision, MedSeries4 and Soarian clinical and revenue cycle management applications.

IBM Global Financing is now working with some 40 percent of the top vendors of acute care EHR systems, the company said.

The federal stimulus bill, formally known as the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, contained billions of dollars in funding to encourage the adoption of electronic medical record systems. Increased usage of EHR systems are widely seen as a critical element of efforts to slow rapidly rising healthcare costs.

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But IBM noted that health-care providers often have to pay for EHR systems before they get reimbursed from the government. The financing options IBM is offering are designed to help plug that gap.

"Customers of electronic healthcare records solutions soon realize that while health IT is necessary, it's also expensive," said Richard Dicks, general manager for North America, IBM Global Financing, in a statement. "Costs have today become a non-technological barrier to health IT adoption. It's a chicken and egg scenario facing medical providers. Many are waiting for government funding working its way through the system, but need the benefits of the technology today. Technology financing helps speed up implementation in a more cost effective manner."

Reimbursement delays are especially difficult for smaller community hospitals and medical groups that are under greater pressure to manage costs, IBM said.