By admin on December 5, 2008
May 5, 2008, 12:00am EDT
Kris B. Mamula
The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center has landed its first international information technology deal.
UPMC has been chosen to provide electronic medical record gear and expertise to a group of three hospitals in Great Britain.
Terms of the 14-month contract were not disclosed, but the agreement increases UPMC revenue from nontraditional sources at a time when government and private insurer payments for medical care have been shrinking.
Work began April 21 at the Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals, an industrial area similar to Pittsburgh and located in northeast England, according to Donna McCormick, CIO in UPMC’s international and commercial services division.
The system is scheduled to go live in February 2009.
UPMC’s name and expertise helped seal the deal, according to Len Fenwick, CEO of Newcastle Hospitals.
“We were very impressed by the progress that UPMC had made with electronic medical records,” Fenwick said. “The extremely strong position of UPMC in North America did attract our attention.”
Electronic medical record gear will be installed at Freeman and Newcastle General hospitals and Royal Victoria Infirmary. The network also operates Newcastle Dental Hospital, Newcastle Fertility Centre, Northern Genetics Service and Walkergate Hospital.
Historically, hospital medical records have been kept in paper files, like those currently used at Newcastle. UPMC began implementing electronic records several years ago through a partnership with Kansas City, Mo.-based Cerner Corp., which provided software. It has since been introduced at each of UPMC’s 20 hospitals. Cerner’s software will be installed at Newcastle, but UPMC is the primary contractor, providing technical assistance and consultation.
The information technology contract opens the door for further collaboration between Newcastle and UPMC. Products and services developed during installation will be co-marketed by both institutions, and a memo of understanding has been reached to allow both health systems to explore research opportunities.
Two areas of special interest for Newcastle are geriatrics and regenerative medicine, Fenwick said, which are also UPMC strengths.
“We have a great deal of common interest, but it’s very much a bite at a time,” Fenwick said. “We’re confident that our joint working relationship will develop at a pace over the next two to three years.”
In recent years, many big-name health systems have been setting up shop abroad to mine new sources of revenue and create medical research opportunities, but UPMC’s international efforts are significantly different, according to Chuck Bogosta, president of UPMC’s international and commercial services division.
While competitors provide research, education and collaborative opportunities, UPMC takes a more aggressive, hands-on approach by employing the necessary personnel and technical assistance needed to do such things as running hospitals.
UPMC’s international portfolio includes management contracts for hospitals in Italy and Ireland and medical consulting services in Qatar.
In addition, Bogosta said UPMC is in “active negotiations” in Dubai to provide information technology, consulting and other services. He declined to elaborate.
England’s National Health System Foundation opened the door to independent nonprofit hospitals such as Newcastle with legislation enacted in 1990.
Newcastle, which is called a foundation trust hospital group, is made up of three hospitals and four other medical facilities. It was founded in 2006 and employs more than 10,000 people, according to its Web site.
Like UPMC, Newcastle also has a large maternity and organ transplant center, and Newcastle General sees more than 75,000 patients annually.
“There’s a lot of common culture” between Pittsburgh and Newcastle, Fenwick said, including a history of heavy industry. “Just a great deal of common purpose.”
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