The Small VAR's Path to Health Care Economic Stimulus Funds

By Jessica Davis  |  Print this article Print


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Think tapping into the market for deploying electronic medical records at physician and hospital sites is just for the big businesses? Think again. Even smaller resellers can get in on some of the economic stimulus package funds that are on the way to help modernize health care IT.

For solution providers and resellers looking to take advantage of the approximately $17 billion in economic stimulus funds that will be available to help physicians purchase and implement electronic medical records, the road hasn’t necessarily been an easy one.

There are plenty of vendors that offer EMR technology, but VARs have complained that those vendors aren’t necessarily channel-friendly. Some don’t have channel programs, and others require upfront payments for an initial bundle of licenses before the VAR even gets started. It’s enough to turn many away from what looks like a game for the big guys.

But Lester Keizer, CEO of Las Vegas-based MSP Connecting Point, has a different perspective. That’s because Keizer spent much of his career not as an MSP but rather working in business development for companies that developed technology for the health care industry. He only came on board as an MSP about four years ago.

Having worked both sides of the street, Keizer enjoys a bigger picture perspective of the opportunities available for VARs when it comes to the economic stimulus package—health care and EMR in particular.

"The incentives don’t begin until next year, so we have six months to begin developing those relationships with physicians and hospitals," Keizer says. "There’s only a 5 percent penetration rate of doctors who have EMR.

"It’s a fabulous opportunity. Not very many VARs know this, and they should be getting out there. The key is to partner with a company that can provide turnkey compliance and workflow efficiency in an EMR solution," he says.

Keizer points out that even smaller solution providers will find fertile markets out there. He suggests physician practices with 10 or fewer doctors and small hospitals in rural areas that have 25 or fewer beds. Keizer says that these health care providers get special breaks from the government because of their small size in addition to benefiting from funds for EMR.

"This will be a space that the average VAR can play in," says Keizer. "At the end of the day, they need to sell themselves not as selling the technology but as helping with compliance and work force efficiency."

And Keizer says that his company, Connecting Point, has been working with one EMR provider in particular because it has taken an early position to be channel-friendly. Chicago-based Allscripts announced a distribution partnership with Synnex in June to help sell EMR technology through the technology reseller channel.

The deal calls for Synnex to leverage its existing IT distribution capabilities in the health care market to accelerate adoption of Allscripts MyWay EHR (electronic health records).

"To qualify for the maximum amount of federal incentives, physicians must have an electronic health record in place and must be using it in their everyday practice as soon as possible," Glen Tullman, Allscripts' CEO, said in the prepared statement announcing the Synnex deal.

Allscripts counts among its end customers 150,000 physicians, 700 hospitals and nearly 7,000 post-acute and home care organizations. Solutions include electronic health records, electronic prescribing, revenue cycle management, practice management, document management, medication services, hospital care management, emergency department information systems and home care automation.

Keizer says the program is very channel friendly and go-to-market friendly, with no barriers to entry that force commitments to up-front license purchases. In addition, Allscripts will work with the 10 and under physician space.

"These small critical care access hospitals—there are about 1,300 of them nationwide—this is a space that I can play in and none of the big technology companies or providers pays too much attention to it yet," says Keizer. "If VARs can get their relationships going now, they will be in the right place."

Jessica Davis covers the channel for eWeek and Channel Insider. Her technology journalism career began well before anyone heard of the World Wide Web and has included stints at Infoworld, Electronic News/EDN, and the Philadelphia Business Journal. Her work has also appeared on CNN and Forbes.com. She has covered hardware, software and networking, as well as the business side of technology. She has won several journalism awards, including a national ASBPE award for best staff-written column, and was named Marketing Computers hardest working tech journalist on their inaugural list of top tech journalists. Jessica can be reached at jessica.davis@ziffdavisenterprise.com

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