GE moving out of the hospital EHR business–and healthcare lending?

[grow_thumb image=”” thumb_width=”100″ /]Updated. Spring cleaning at GE continues that may affect healthcare more than EHRs. Neil Versel catches at HIMSS, if not an exclusive, close to it, by finally getting a GE exec to admit the awful truth–that they are phasing out their Centricity Enterprise (hospital) EHR. Versel: “It’s now helping customers with a “graceful transition over a number of years,” said Jon Zimmerman, general manager of clinical business solutions at GE Healthcare.” Even more remarkable, that decision was made three years ago. MedCityNews also updated their article to highlight some of their recent problems with Intermountain Health; we’ve also noted that UCSF converted to Epic after 12 years (see our Weekend Must Read).

The GE Capital exit may affect healthcare too. The other and more major part of the spring cleaning–their exit from GE Capital with the sale/spinoff of assets over the next two years–was announced over the weekend (Bloomberg). Their Healthcare Financial Services lends to healthcare entities including hospitals, life science and in senior housing/health facilities. It also houses the Healthymagination Fund, the capital source for GE Ventures, its early stage developmental arm for healthcare, software and energy. According to The Wall Street Journal, GE will retain healthcare financing to support what it makes in its GE Healthcare unit: ultrasound, imaging, patient monitoring and diagnostics industrial equipment, down to the Vscan (yes! it’s still there). We would bet that GE Ventures is safe. But does this mean that its healthcare real estate unit within Healthcare Financial Services, which lends to senior housing, skilled nursing and other medical properties, is on the block, especially as GE this weekend completed the sale of its real estate holdings? What else, we wonder, will GE sell at the right price to pull up share price–and in the longer term, the future of its manufacturing in areas like major healthcare equipment which have been facing a declining and heavily competitive US market?

Exiting the hospital EHR business makes sense for GE, but what else will it entail? While it retained a solid footprint of vendor loyalty and satisfaction among larger (250+ bed) hospitals and in community hospitals (<250) (Black Book), GE’s market share in the top 10 of hospital EHRs controlling 90 percent of the market (based on MU attestation) was nil (Becker’s Hospital Review, also cited in Dark Daily). An updated version of the MedCityNews article quoted Medical Economics on GE Centricity’s EHR market share as a distant sixth, $100 million behind #5 athenahealth.

Whether it will sell off the Enterprise EHR or gradually shut the unit down is not yet confirmed. GE states that it will reposition itself in the EMR area, focusing on their ambulatory and small to large practices products including practice management–an area already dominated by athenahealth, Epic, eClinicalWorks, NextGen and Allscripts, depending on practice size (Information Week). But well-publicized glitches like GE Centricity’s days-long crash last week at MedStar Health’s outpatient clinics in Washington DC and Baltimore don’t help their reputation in this risk-averse group.

The highly competitive ‘work in progress’ of US EHRs at both hospital and practice levels is a vivid contrast to the more centralized approach taken in the UK and Europe. (International Hospital)

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