Athenahealth Taps Sermo Docs for Opinions on Electronic Health Records

What do doctors think about electronic health records? That’s a question at the heart of a newly announced partnership between Athenahealth and Sermo, according to the companies’ press release this morning.

Athenahealth (NASDAQ:ATHN), the Watertown, MA-based provider of Internet software and services for medical practices, is tapping Cambridge, MA-based Sermo’s online community of physicians to get their views on electronic health records (EHRs) and other issues impacting their practices. Financial terms of the partnership weren’t disclosed.

This deal shouldn’t come as a surprise. Sermo CEO Daniel Palestrant told Xconomy last month that part of his doctors-only social networking firm’s sales growth in early 2010 was because of new business from electronic health records vendors. Athena, meanwhile, has been pushing for doctors to adopt its electronic records product, athenaClinicals, as U.S. physicians deploy records systems to qualify for $17 billion in Medicare incentives beginning in 2011.

Athena, which is known mostly for managing billing and collections for physician practices with an online system called athenaNet, added its EHR application to the system in late 2007. As of the end of the third quarter of 2009, there were 1,270 physicians using Athena’s EHR. By comparison, companies that have been in the EHR business much longer than Athena say they each have tens of thousands of physicians using their electronic health records software.

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