Dell Program Creates Certified Solution For EMR VARs

Dell has kicked off a pilot program to sell electronic medical record solutions through about 30 solution providers focused on the health-care space. If things progress as expected, Dell plans to expand the program and look for more VARs to reach the EMR space, said executives.

The EMR program is the latest initiative by Dell to utilize the channel to better reach SMB customers with vertical solutions, said Greg Davis, Dell's vice president and general manager of global commercial channels. "We clearly are developing more solutions that include Dell hardware, Dell software, third party software and services to solve a problem in vertical industry," Davis said. "We've identified a number of partners as strong solution providers that have the skills to sell an EMR package from Dell."

Solution providers don't have to be Preferred or Premier partners in Dell's Partner Direct program, but they need expertise in the EMR field, said Dell executives.

Initially, Dell tried selling the EMR solution directly to customers, but found the integration required onsite into other systems was cost-prohibitive for Dell to do. Partnering with local VARs provides the onsite support necessary to correctly complete the solution, said Dell executives.

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"We found we were incapable of delivering this as a direct solution. Our initial assumption was to take an Allscripts or a NextGen and if you follow systems requirements, it should work. The reality is there's a significant integration that needs to happen. It's not a solution where you take it out of the box and get it up and running," said Sean Bogan, a program manager at Dell.

Dell has partnered with EMR application developers including NextGen and Allscripts to develop the solutions, which have been tested and certified inside Dell to work. Having a packaged solution should be attractive to both VARs and end users, said Bogan.

Other EMR applications certified to work with the Dell solution include Athenahealth, eClinicalWorks, Greenway Medical Technologies, Ingenix CareTracker EHR, and Practice Fusion.

Dell plans to share EMR leads with its partners, according to Sheila Moran, director of HCLS Channel at Dell. "We're engaging them with implementations where we can use their reach, but we're also supporting them because we have specialists in the field to support them in their businesses," Moran said. "We're also working with all the major EMR providers to start to enable [VARs] to sell hosted offerings of some of the EMR solutions. That's going to be staged over time."

Bob Deuby, executive vice president and partner at The Computer Guys, Farmington Hills, Mich., said Dell's offering is a solid one and has helped his company expand its EMR reach.

"We tell clients you don't know what you don't know but here are the reasons you need a certified stack," Deuby said.

The Computer Guys makes customers sign a waiver if they don't use the Dell stack with an EMR solution in order to push them into the solution that's been tested to work, Deuby said.

Next: Hosted EMR Coming Soon

"We've seen [EMR] put on inferior architecture and there are insurmountable issues when it comes to software applications. You can use this as a push and say we will support you with the IT vendor, us, otherwise, they're on their own," Deuby said.

Dell plans to add a hosted component to its EMR package, a facet that should accelerate EMR adoption among smaller health-care practices, Deuby said.

"It's game of economics for them. How can they do it so they have a successful adoption to get the [federal] reimbursement but also in a way to minimize capital expenditure," he said. "Anything that's going to help the smaller guy get this deal done and allow them to continue to operate as an independent business owner is a plus."