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Tech giants line up for e-health dollars

Allscripts, Cisco, Citrix, Dell, Intel, Intuit, Microsoft, and Nuance Communications are banding together in an effort to make doctors aware of the benefits of electronic health records.

With billions in stimulus dollars available to help doctors and hospitals digitize their health records, it stands to reason that tech companies want to make spending that money as easy as possible.

Several of the players--Allscripts, Cisco, Citrix, Dell, Intel, Intuit, Microsoft, and Nuance Communications--have teamed up in an alliance aimed at educating doctors on the many tools available to help set up electronic health records.

The EHR Stimulus Alliance is pulling out all the stops, with a road tour, Webcasts, telephone hotline, and other tools all aimed at demystifying the technology and showing case studies of where it has worked.

President Obama's stimulus package provides on the order of $20 billion for health care technology, with the central focus being nudging hospitals and doctors to move their records from manila folders to computers. Even with the money, though, it's seen as a daunting task.

"The EHR Stimulus Alliance is a unified movement toward turning the national dialogue surrounding the EHR transition into action," Nuance Healthcare President John Shagoury said in a statement. "Each of the partners involved has unique solutions that are crucial to EHR implementation. In our case, because most doctors speak at least three times faster than they type, speech recognition technology helps increase the meaningful use and efficiency of EHRs by decreasing physician reliance on the keyboard and mouse."

The alliance hopes to reach half a million doctors with its message.

Although the alliance represents a number of the big names in tech, there are a lot of other players in the electronic health records business, including Cerner, General Electric, eClinicalWorks, McKesson, and NextGen, as well as start-ups such as Medsphere. Other tech players also pushing hard for their piece of the industry include IBM and storage giant EMC.

By the way, I and some colleagues will have a ton more to say on this topic next week as CNET News takes an in-depth look at the push toward electronic health records.