GE Centricity Advance Ceasing Operations

Yesterday I had the opportunity to talk with the people from GE who briefed me that GE is in the process of shutting down their GE Centricity Advance product line. This was pretty big news to me since I remember just last year at HIMSS meeting with GE and hearing that for the small practice (I believe 1-10 docs) GE Centricity Advance was where they were putting all their effort. You could see the energy they had behind it. In fact, their iPad EHR app was built on top of the GE Centricity Advance solution (which is now being moved to their other EHR product lines).

You might remember that the GE Centricity Advance solution was actually created out of the purchase of MedPlexus in March 2010. At the time, MedPlexus had 100 employees out of California with the development team out of India. At the time of purchase it seemed GE’s acquisition would provide a SaaS based EHR option to the independent physician market. Plus, MedPlexus (which became GE Centricity Advance) also provided an integrated Practice Management System with the EHR.

The GE Centricity Advance website is already forwarding to the Centricity Practice Solution website and a letter was sent out to all Centricity Advance customers informing them that the product line was ceasing operation. I’ve asked for a copy of that letter and if I get it, I’ll add it to this post (or if you’re a customer that received it and doesn’t mind sharing we’d welcome it).

I was told that GE is offering Centricty Advance users a free transfer to their Centricity Practice Solution EHR software. From what they told me it seems this will include data migration, training on the new system and a license for Centricity Practice Solution. Of course, Centricity Advance was paid on a subscription model so they’ll have to continue paying the monthly fee. As with most data migrations, I don’t think we’ll know how good GE is at migrating the data from GE Centricity Advance to Centricity Practice Solution until they start to do them.

Since both Centricity Advance and Centricity Practice Solution have ONC-ATCB complete EHR certification, there shouldn’t be any problems for those that transfer to Centricity Practice Solution when it comes to EHR stimulus money. Those not wanting to move to the Centricity Practice Solution will have this as part of their decision on what to do once Centricity Advance is no longer supported. I expect there will be many in this situation since while Centricity Practice Solution is available through GE’s partners as a “SaaS” offering, I think many will want to find a true from the ground up web based SaaS EHR offering.

I asked how many providers would be effected by the end of the Centricity Advance product line, but it’s GE’s policy to not comment on those numbers.

Where does this leave GE Centricity EMR software?
GE Healthcare IT still does a couple billion dollars of business and still has three EMR software offerings:
*Centricity Practice Solution – The replacement for Centricity Advance and will be GE’s EMR offering for the 1-100 provider practices.
*Centricity EMR – Still ambulatory EMR, but for the 100+ provider practices.
*Centricity Enterprise – Acute care EMR

I’m sure that many will wonder how good the Centricity Practice Solution will do in the small practice arena. Will this basically mean that GE is no longer a player in the small 1-10 provider practices? It’s hard to say for sure, but I’ll be interested to see how the Centricity Practice Solution EHR does in this market. There must have been a reason they purchased what became Centricity Advance instead of going with Centricity Practice Solution in the first place.

On the other hand, I could see people making the argument that this is a sound strategy by GE since movements like accountable care organizations (ACO’s) and related initiatives are putting the small practice in jeopardy. We know that many hospital systems are purchasing up group practices as they prepare to become an ACO among other reasons. While we still have many small group practices, it’s worth considering how many of them will survive the changing landscape. If not many survive, then this strategy by GE could end well for them. Although, I personally believe that practice consolidation is cyclical and so I’m not ready to announce the death of small group practices yet.

Another trend that might make this a good decision on GE’s part is what I call the Smart EHR. Our current phase of EHR adoption is basically converting paper to electronic. Once doctors start requiring EHR software to do things far more advanced (see Artificial Intelligence and Genomics EHR), it will require a new kind of EHR. Maybe Centricity Advance wasn’t prepared to make this shift. We’ll see if GE’s other EHR software is ready for it.

Many have argued that EHR consolidation is inevitable. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that part of that EHR consolidation is happening within the same EHR company. I’m sure there are more on the way as we see which EHR companies survive the meaningful use winter and come out on the other side and which EHR companies close up shop.

Update: I asked GE for some more clarification on when GE Centricity Advance would be sunset and which data they’ll be migrating as part of the data migration process. Here are their answers:
Sunset Period: We have announced that we will cease operations of Centricity Advance on June 30, 2012. The data will be available in read-only mode until December 31, 2012.

Data Migration: We are working with our partners and customers to figure out the best way to migrate data. We have told customers that we will migrate the following data:
a. Patient Demographics, Patient Insurance data, Fee Schedules, Appointments
b. Patient Summary
c. Patient chart
We will migrate all clinical data. We are working with our partners to determine which financial information should be automatically migrated.