With all the talk of the adoption towards electronic medical records (EMR) and questions about software choices – people tend to forget the hardware needed to run such records.  Dell is trying their best to create as many partnerships as possible with EMR vendors and physicians hoping to adopt EMRs. Apple has also tried to foster these relationships, but compared to Dell its efforts have been significantly weaker.

Just recently Dell teamed up with Practice Fusion, an EMR vendor for small practices famous for marketing themselves as the fastest growing free electronic health record company – and are offering deep discounts through this partnership.

The partnership with Practice Fusion is by no means the first relationship with an EMR vendor for Dell.  They have over 20 partnerships with electronic health vendors, ranging from Allscripts to Athena Health.  Dell even has a dedicated number and email address for those who are interested in buying hardware for electronic health records: 1-866-Dell-EMR and Dell_EMR@Dell.com.

So exactly how deep are these discounts?

For the Practice Fusion partnership, Dell has listed the discounts on their website, and our assumption is these discounts are similar to what providers will find with other electronic health record systems for small practice. Even if the electronic health record vendor you are interested in does not have an existing relationship with Dell, you can most likely get this discount by calling the above number or using the above e-mail contact.

Practice Fusion actually has a page where they give you a list of “suggested hardware” – the suggestions are based on how large your practice is.

Most of the above configurations make sense, but the Limix digital cameras are probably not the best way to use your cash.  The following are the discounts being offered by dell:

As you can see, they are naming their products as “EMR laptop” – not with their actual name.  The “EMR Laptop” is actually a Vostro v13 lapop, while the EMR tablet is actually a Latitude XT.  The discount on the laptop is only $164, but the “EMR tablet” has a whopping $1,408.00 discount.  So, to be fair, Dell has definitely stretched this discount out.  The base Latitude XT tablet costs $2,423, and while the “EMR tablet” has higher specs (processor, hard drive, etc) – the base model with a few extra features would provide sufficient computing.

Nevertheless, with the type of specs being offered in the special “EMR tablet”, you are still getting a pretty significant discount.  Oh, and no where do you see specs for clinic specific use, such as special medical grade casing or related items.

Physicians are set to receive $18,000 of the $44,000 in ARRA reimbursements for electronic medical record adoption in the first year of use – but only if their medical record software meets “meaningful use” – metrics that are currently still being finalized.  If you dish out over $2,000 for a tablet, you’ve already eaten over 10% of the reimbursement fund for the first year – and you still have to pay for the actual software and other necessary hardware tools.

It’s these steep prices that make the iPad actually compelling when it comes to using tablets in practice.  Obviously, you’re missing certain levels of functionality that an iPad does not have and the above full featured Dell tablet does – but a recent electronic health record vendor we interviewed is actually designing exclusively for the iPad.  It’ll be interesting to see if others will follow suit or if we’ll see prices for tablets fall for physicians hoping to adopt EMR technology.