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Google helps start-up offer electronic health records

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A start-up vendor has teamed with web search giant Google to offer a free electronic health record system to physicians. The service, now in beta version from Practice Fusion, is believed to be the first on-demand medical records product available to physicians at no cost.

A start-up vendor has teamed with web search giant Google to offer a free electronic health record system to physicians. The service, now in beta version from Practice Fusion, is believed to be the first on-demand medical records product available to physicians at no cost.

"The cost of electronic medical record systems is one of the major barriers to adoption," said Practice Fusion CEO Ryan Howard.

EHR systems typically cost $20,000 or more to implement. The Practice Fusion model circumvents this cost, allowing practitioners to adopt EHR technology with no financial risk. The service finances itself with advertising generated through Google's AdSense system and displayed as the records system is used.

Eventually, the system could handle such radiology-related data as reports and perhaps even digital images, Howard said.

The EHR service is separate from Google, which merely drives the application. Google will not handle any of the patient data passing through it. Data will reside in a central repository owned and controlled by Practice Fusion.

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