Six to 10 small family practices will take part in a six-month project to determine the feasibility of an open-source electronic medical records system designed to automate the clinical workflow and improve outcomes for primary care practices at a low cost, two major healthcare organizations announced Tuesday.
The sponsors of the project, the American Academy of Family Physicians, Leawood, Kan., and the Chicago-based Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society, say they will launch the demonstration sometime before Nov. 1.
"It's the first pilot project using an ASP that may or may not become the open-source product we are looking for," says David Kibbe, M.D., director of health information technology for the AAFP, who is leading the effort to promote affordability and compatibility between medical practices.
"This is a small-scale pilot project that is best described as a proof of a concept," says Kibbe, who also is chairman and founder of care management software vendor Canopy Systems, Chapel Hill, N.C., and a University of North Carolina faculty member. "Our goals are fairly limited in this regard."
Kibbe asks, "Can we, in fact, deliver a low-cost electronic health record and can practices gain utility, usefulness, from the product over a short period of time?"
The AAFP and HIMSS also are hoping to identify problem areas in EMR implementation for small family practices, according to Kibbe.
HIMSS, which last week proposed a universal definition for an EMR to the Institute of Medicine and standards-setting organization Health Level Seven, will contribute EMR content expertise and Web support.
MedPlexus, a privately held healthcare IT vendor in Santa Clara, Calif., will provide application service provider technology for the demonstration.
The groups have not identified the participating practices, though Kibbe says the practices will be geographically diverse.
Kibbe says the MedPlexus EMR to be used for the demonstration is fairly powerful, though it will not have all the bells and whistles of a full-blown clinical IT system, such as clinical decision support and direct links to practice management software.
"It does capture various components of a structural note with structured data entry and templating," Kibbe says, adding it also is able to generate superbills and support electronic prescription writing.
The AAFP has been seeking technology partners in its open-source EMR for more than a year, in hopes of boosting EMR usage by bringing the cost of technology down to about $150 per month per physician.
Open-source software is made available to anyone wishing to enhance or develop new features from the source programming code and thus is free of the hefty licensing fees normally associated with commercial software.