Several healthcare technologies companies have launched an alliance aimed at educating 500,000 U.S. doctors about opportunities aligned with the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009. The Electronic Health Record (EHR) Stimulus Alliance, spearheaded by Allscripts (Chicago), includes Cisco (San Jose, California), Citrix (Fort Lauderdale, Florida), Intel (Santa Clara, California), Intuit (Mountain View, California), Microsoft (Redmond, Washington), and Nuance (Burlington, Massachusetts). It aims to deliver hundreds of virtual and physical education programs for physicians across the country.

Allscripts said that, by connecting physicians, hospitals, pharmacies, payers, public health organizations and other stakeholders across healthcare, information technologies such as the EHR can improve the management of chronic health conditions that account for about 75% of U.S. healthcare costs, and enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of U.S. healthcare.

The EHR Stimulus Alliance marks the first nationwide campaign by a broad coalition of healthcare and technology companies to help physicians explore opportunities associated with the ARRA, according to Allscripts. Alliance members are sponsoring The EHR Stimulus Tour, a significant education program with hundreds of planned virtual and physical events for physicians in the U.S.

"Encouraging every physician to use electronic health records is essential to achieving President Obama's goal of a safer, higher quality healthcare system at a price we can afford," said Glen Tullman, CEO Allscripts. "The EHR Stimulus Alliance marks a major step forward in helping more physicians to understand their options for entering the electronic healthcare highway."

Signed into law on Feb. 17, the ARRA provides physicians a maximum of between $44,000 and $64,000 in incentives for adopting and demonstrating "meaningful use" of an EHR beginning in fiscal 2011.

Under the ARRA, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services will pay the incentives to physicians over five years, beginning in fiscal 2011. Physicians who have not adopted certified EHR systems by 2014 will have their Medicare reimbursements reduced by 1% beginning in 2015; 2% in 2016; and by up to 3% in 2017 and thereafter.

A sales and marketing partnership between iMedica (Dallas), a healthcare software solutions developer for medical practices, and Doctors' Administrative Solutions (DAS; Tampa, Florida) will see DAS offer iMedica's Patient Relationship Manager (PRM 2009) and new Transition EHR systems to physician practices.

DAS provides "people-based technology solutions" for physician practices through products, services, training and the creation of a connected healthcare community. As an iMedica value-added reseller, DAS aims to boost EHR adoption among physician practices in the Tampa area and beyond.

DAS is working with physicians to help them access stimulus funds for EHR adoption and creating new jobs in the process.

"This partnership with iMedica will help us provide physicians with the EHR and practice management solutions that best suit their needs, and with the quality service they expect," said David Schlaifer, president/CEO of DAS. "As the federal government begins to offer more incentives to physicians through the stimulus plan, we believe this partnership will help us bring one of the best designed and supported EHR products on the market to physicians in this region and beyond."

DAS will offer iMedica's PRM 2009 and the recently unveiled Transition EHR. Both products are offered as hosted solutions, allowing physicians to access the best software at an extremely reasonable cost, without the need to employ additional IT resources.

PRM 2009 is the latest version of iMedica's single-database integrated EHR and Practice Management solution that utilizes Microsoft's.NET technology. It is tailored to address the business and clinical needs of small- to medium-sized medical practices.

Transition is a new EHR and PM system. It eliminates longstanding implementation and cost barriers raised by physicians, the company said. In addition, Transition speeds the adoption of EHRs within small- to medium-sized physician practices.

As an alternative to PRM 2009's full-fledged EHR/PM system, Transition offers e-prescribing, document management, lab results, automated PQRI capabilities and more, without PRM 2009's full note documentation capability.

"Physician practices in DAS' region will be especially gratified to know that they can enhance reimbursement through features such as iMedica's PQRI (Patient Quality Reporting Initiative)," said Michael Nissenbaum, president/CEO of iMedica. "Once physicians realize that tools such as the iMedica PRM 2009 and Transition can actually improve reimbursement and strengthen practice profitability, they'll feel more confident about coping with other implementation barriers such as practice downtime, staff training and the transition from paper to electronic records."

In other agreements/contracts news:

• Cmed (Horsham, UK) has entered into a partnership agreement with Tessella (Oxford, UK) in which Tessella and Cmed will ensure interoperability of Timaeus, the Intelligent Data Acquisition and Management system (iDAM), with Tessella FATES, Tessella's fixed and adaptive trial execution system.

"With Timaeus, organizations have the ability to acquire, manage and report data in near real-time. This is particularly important for adaptive trials because it minimizes the delay in the availability of response data and therefore adaptation of the trial," said Tom Parke, head of clinical technologies at Tessella. Parke added, "The interoperability of two best of breed clinical trial products represents an important step in removing the operational complexity associated with adaptive clinical trials."

Richard Young, director of business development at Cmed said, "Tessella and Cmed have been collaborating for some time; not least of all through our Adaptive Trial Design symposium (February 2009). By entering into a partnership this will reinforce our capabilities, and provide unparalleled solutions for adaptive designs." Young continues: "Tessella bring huge experience in the design, simulation and execution of adaptive trial designs and the interoperability of Tessella FATES and Timaeus enables bio-tech and pharma companies the ability to leverage this know how."

• Clinipace (Morrisville, North Carolina), a digital clinical research organization, reported that Small Bone Innovations (SBi; New York) has awarded four new projects to the company during 1Q09. These projects primarily include electronic data capture (EDC) and data management services, Clinipace said.

SBi offers a portfolio of products and technologies to treat trauma and diseases in small bones and joints and has recently acquired the S.T.A.R. total ankle replacement system. "In selecting Clinipace, we found a partner who understands the culture and financial needs of a growing medical device firm. We share a common vision for more project visibility and appreciate their approach to service delivery," said James O'Connor VP of worldwide regulatory, quality and clinical affairs, surgeons ethics and compliance at SBi.

"We are investing in multiple clinical projects. This requires a select group of clinical and regulatory service providers to work closely together with SBi. We turned to Clinipace to serve as the glue to hold the projects together from a data management perspective. Having complete real-time visibility into study-level information is critical to our success," O'Connor said.