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athenahealth Collaborates with BIDMC on Inpatient Cloud-based EHR

by Jonathan Bush, President & CEO

There have been times when I feel like I’ve been yelling “Marco” from my corner office at the Arsenal in Watertown. And faintly, from downtown Boston, I’ve heard “Polo!” echoing back from John Halamka, CIO of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, via his blogs  and tweets. In a world of folks on their heels protecting themselves against liability, John’s voice has consistently cut through the HIT chatter, speaking consistently and passionately about technology’s impact on medicine. And it’s been more than talk. Over 15 years, he and his team there have built a homegrown, cutting edge, internet-based inpatient EHR system. There aren’t any apps like it in hospitals right now, particularly in the tertiary space, but we found one right in our own backyard.
 
That’s why I’m delighted to announce that we have entered a technology collaboration with John and BIDMC to purchase their suite of internally-developed clinical applications and EHR system. Along with a fantastic code set for building athenaClinicals Enterprise for the inpatient space, I’m thrilled to have a partner to work on the same problems with the same solutions. A new arm of athenahealth, dedicated to emerging products, will have access to Halamka and his team’s incredible expertise to advise us as we rebuild their tool into athenaNet. His team is comfortable with experimentation and innovation. And they have the emotional and intellectual capacity to be the next thing instead of waiting for it to find them. I can’t wait to work with them to deliver on their do-over.

At this stage in our maturity, we believe the right way to grow is through “acqu-hire:” Buy something that works well as it is, write it into athenaNet, our cloud-based network, and tune it up over time. Starting with the proven code sets from RazorInsights for small rural and community hospitals, and now Beth Israel for larger hospitals and health systems, shoots us ahead years in a matter of a month. Both systems will serve as blueprints for us to build deep supporting modalities into our evolving inpatient system, modality by modality, workflow by workflow. Skilled nursing, ambulance, palliative care, etc. We need every modality to be connected so that hospitals can be on a single instance of software, sharing information, and connecting care. I really think this alignment will cause a profound shift for hospitals to get out of the distraction that keeps them from doing what they are uniquely positioned to do.

There are too many hospitals creating standalone islands of health info, feeding it, editing it, building rules…for only their use. Every hospital that’s coming up against a major capital investment should hit the pause button and think twice. Evaluate the options before getting into a massive crippling investment. This collaborative partnership between athenahealth and BIDMC, added to the acquisition of RazorInsights, is probably the single biggest shift upwards toward a health care internet in our 17 years. Yes, there’s lots more to do, but it’s SO doable now. And the fact that there is an institution of such scale – along with RazorInsights – willing to take the plunge with us is beyond heartening. It feels like we’re on the path to connecting the continuum – for real.  

To learn more about this exciting collaboration, watch this short video interview with Halamka, Jonathan and our Chief Technology Officer, Jeremy Delinsky:


Jonathan Bush is the President and CEO of athenahealth.

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