Medsphere stimulates UC San Diego clinic project

Not all the stimulus in health IT is coming from the government.

Medsphere, which offers an implementation of the VA’s open source VistA software, announced this week it has completed work with the UC San Diego Extension Service to create a complete Health IT implementation program for clinics under the Creative Commons license.

The plan was built for Family Health Centers of San Diego, a non-profit community clinic founded in 1970.*

The project trained 29 UCSD students in Medsphere implementation, and in the “meaningful use” rules under which sweet, sweet stimulus cash will be available starting next year.

At the conclusion of the project the students presented their results to a panel that included representatives from the company and the extension service, as well as health IT consultants who acted as student advisors.

But the big winner here is Medsphere.

VistA was launched as hospital software, and bringing it into the clinic environment brings a whole new customer set to the company. The recipe created at San Diego is now at Medsphere’s community site.

It’s important for Medsphere in part because even open source systems are being pressed on costs when compared with SaaS offerings like Practice Fusion, which is free for a small clinic and easy to implement.

As I have written many times there is a price lower than free. That is, having software and having something that works are too different things.

Medsphere has in the past taken advantage of this fact. No hospital wants to just take free software and pretend to run on it. They need the support and services a company provides in order to make things happen.

But with programs like this, Medsphere further reduces the costs, gets its software in front of new customer sets, and expands its market through the power of free. By working with universities, it also builds a valuable cohort of students familiar with its offerings, and what is needed to implement them.

So what you have is a true win-win-win. Medsphere gets new customers, clinics get free help in meeting meaningful use, students get training that makes them more valuable, and everyone increases their loyalty to the software vendor, which stimulates further growth.

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*EDITOR'S NOTE: Family Health Centers of San Diego CIO Andres Gutierrez was one of a panel of experts to whom the UCSD students presented the plan, which was actually built for a fictitious Community Clinic in San Diego called "Community Health Connections." Click here to see the UCSD CHC Plan Presentation on the Ecosystem.