Posted by: AllinHIT
Digital divide, EHR adoption, Quest Diagnostics
HHS and Quest Diagnostics recently announced that Quest will give away their Care360EHR, an EHR lite product, to physicians serving the minority community in Houston. This is in response to HHS’s challenge to EHR vendors earlier this year to address the “EHR digital divide”. As a former technology consultant with Quest, and being a minority myself, this is the exact win-win strategy I was pushing for.
Unbeknownst to most, the name of my firm, Webmenders was named after I read the Commerce Department’s telecommunications study, “Falling through the Net, Defining the Digital Divide” (http://www.ntia.doc.gov/ntiahome/fttn99/fttn.pdf). I will never forget a picture of a huge net containing an open hole, with minority people falling through it. At the time, I was Executive Director of the Orange County Florida Business Incubator, and with that community support I formed “NetMenders”. “NetMenders”, an effort to educate minorities on internet capabilities and increase access, was supported by Compaq and various community organizations. Although the funding and effort fell short in the end, the concept and effort led to my forever commitment, evident in the naming of my firm.
Back to HHS and Quest. I must applaud them both for providing EHRs and promoting access in Houston. However, I think it makes sense to officially expand the program to more areas (not giving away any secrets, but I hear similar deals are available!). Why is this a smart move for Quest? First of all, MedPlus, their technology subsidiary, has had difficulty reaching sales goals with their EHR product. Yes, it is a decent, certified, EHR lite product, easily deployed and piggy backing on the Care360 Lab Ordering and Information platform, installed in most physician offices. However, Quest is relying on lab sales representatives, with little incentive, to create the sales opportunity and fill the funnel. Secondly, as part of their strategy, Quest will increase lab revenue by giving away the product! By incorporating the lab ordering module into the office workflow, it makes it difficult to order from a lab competitor. You can say this will allow Quest to keep “desktop space”, giving them a competitive advantage.
Lastly, I just believe it’s the right thing to do; not only for Quest, but for other EHR vendors as well. If every EHR vendor adopted a minority health community equal to that now in Houston, we can really begin making a dent and finally take the necessary steps forward to narrow the gap of the digital divide.