Managed Services and Healthcare Vertical Continue to Converge

We're tracking several new managed services developments in the health care market. They include Beacon Partners’s push into managed services, MyHealthDirect’s SaaS offering, and a new PriceWaterhouseCoopers report are among the developments in healthcare IT. Here’s the run down...

Beacon Partners, a healthcare management consulting firm, is expanding its managed services offering to hospitals and physicians practices. Charles Anastos, senior vice president at the Weymouth, Mass.-based company, estimates that interest in managed services has doubled over the past year, citing the federal government’s meaningful use initiative as the key driver.

The meaningful use program provides financial incentives to doctors and hospitals deploying electronic health records. In May, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), which oversees the program, announced the first round of healthcare provider payments -- $75 million -- under the Medicare portion of meaningful use. CMS reported that more than $83 million in incentive payments have been made thus far under the Medicaid segment of the program.

Anastos said smaller practices -- those with 10 or fewer physicians -- are a hot market at the moment. The smaller sites, he noted, typically lack dedicated staff able to run IT systems. But larger groups, such as faculty practices tied to medical schools, also show interest in managed services, Anastos added.

Beacon Partners’ managed services include application support for electronic health record (EHR) and practice management systems. Here, the company provides remote support from its Level 1 service area located in Beacon Partners’ headquarters. Support covers Allscripts, GE Centricity, Epic and NextGen systems.

The company also offers on-site services such as training and project management.

Legacy application support is another element of Beacon Partners’ managed services. The company will maintain a provider’s legacy system while it migrates to a new application. Anastos said it can take a year or two for a legacy system to be completely phased out. In the meantime, Beacon Partners will support the system and manage upgrades.

Other services include e-mail hosting and disaster recovery/business continuity. The company also provides data warehousing and quality reporting. CMS’s Physician Quality Reporting System offers incentive payments to doctors who report information on quality measures. Beacon Partners will handle that reporting task on a clinician’s behalf.

Anastos said that service is currently offered in New England, noting that the company aims to expand the service’s geographic reach.

Healthcare Reservations

MyHealthDIRECT’s SaaS offering helps healthcare organizations find openings in the schedules of community doctors and schedule appointments for patients.

Jay Mason, founder and chief executive officer of MyHealthDIRECT, describes his company’s service as a cross between Sabre and OpenTable. The company, however, aims this particular reservation system toward hospitals and health systems. Customers tap the browser-based application, which reads the calendars of most commercially available practice management systems. The application locates open appointments and then organizes them into a “searchable inventory” for scheduling, according to the company.

The hospital can enter a patient’s payer type -- Medicaid, for example -- and other needs to help match patients with providers.

Mason cited emergency department redirection as one use case for MyHealthDIRECT. An ED can use the application to redirect patients who visit the department for non-emergency needs, booking appointments with primary care providers. ED staff can also use the application to make follow-up care appointments for patients.

MyHealthDIRECT earlier this year announced $4 million in Series B funding from Arboretum Ventures and Chrysalis Ventures.

PwC Explores Healthcare Gold Rush

PricewaterhouseCoopers recently defined a few key roles for businesses hoping to prosper in what the company called “the booming health market.”

Details on those categories can be found in a PwC report, titled The New Gold Rush. The report lists four roles, but these two seem the most relevant to MSPs:
  • Fixers: According to PwC, those businesses aim to address the “dysfunctional, redundant, bifurcated or unsustainable” parts of the healthcare system. That’s a big target. MSPs, however, already are chipping away in such areas as printer management and hosting services.
  • Implementers: The report sees a role for companies that understand government spending initiatives/regulations and help healthcare organizations comply with the directives and develop new business models. That mission sounds like a job for a management consultant, but could fall within the scope of a healthcare specialist MSP.
That's all for now. I'll be back with more healthcare insights for MSPs as new trends continue to unfold.

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