Founded in 1994 by Brigham and Women's Hospital and Massachusetts General Hospital, Partners HealthCare includes community and specialty hospitals, a managed care organization, a physician network, community health centers, home care and other health-related entities. In 2008, Partners HealthCare serviced approximately 2.9 million outpatient visits and 149,000 hospital admissions. Its facilities at that time included 3,500 licensed hospital beds, serviced by 40,000 full-time equivalent (FTE) employees across its network of affiliates. For fiscal year 2008, PHS generated more than $7 billion in revenue and conducted approximately $1 billion worth of biomedical research. .
According to government sources, U.S. expenditures on health care in 2009 reached nearly $2.4 trillion (expected to reach $2.7 trillion in 2010). Despite this vaunting national level of expenditure on medical treatment, death rates due to preventable errors in the delivery of health services rose to approximately 98,000 deaths in 2009. To address the dual challenges of cost control and quality improvement, some have argued that the U.S. health care system needs an integrated electronic medical record (EMR) system and associated information technology-enabled processes. The authors of this report determined that the crisis in health care delivery was not just a matter of the cost of these services but also a matter of quality. Even within the typical medical practice or hospital, information about the patient was not integrated nor was it effectively leveraged to prescribe cost-effective therapies. Partners Healthcare System (PHS) maintained a centralized digital records library on more than 4.6 million patients, augmented in real time by data, textual comments and artifacts (i.e. X-rays, MRIs [magnetic resonance imaging, EKGs [electrocardiograms], etc.) as these patients visited doctor offices, received hospital-based or home care services, and obtained prescription medications and other therapies.