Resellers Grapple with EMR Stimulus Opportunity Challenges

By Jessica Davis  |  Print this article Print

Now that IT distributors such as Synnex and Ingram Micro are working with EMR vendors, deal flow should be loosening up for resellers targeting the EMR stimulus opportunity for health care providers. Not so fast! Some say that many health care providers are now delaying purchases as they grapple with questions behind the government's definition of "meaningful use."

While the opportunity to help health care providers implement electronic medical records (EMR) has been widely promoted and discussed by IT vendors, distributors and VARs as offering big potential for IT solution provider sales, some say that opportunity still has yet to be realized.

At first the trouble seemed to be that EMR vendors didn’t work with channel partners. But slowly distribution began to strike deals with vendors such as AllScripts. But fixing that stumbling block hasn’t created a stampede to implement EMR. So what’s the problem?

It may be that health care providers are still unsure of the definitions of "meaningful use" that the government is requiring for organizations to get the money. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recently published guidelines for so-called "meaningful use" in electronic health record (HER) incentive programs here.

But Gary Sims, CEO of IT solution provider Advanced Technical Solutions in Scott Depot, W.V., says many of his health care customers are waiting for more clarity from the government.

"There’s one customer, a rural hospital, who is getting ready to do an infrastructure upgrade," he says. "But they are holding off because they are not sure what the requirements are to get the money."

That’s true for rural hospitals and small clinics alike, says Sims.

"Everyone is in the investigation stage," he told Channel Insider. He believes spending will begin at the end of the calendar year because most hospitals begin their fiscal years in October.

Meanwhile, Sims says, he has not partnered with any EMR vendors because he finds that most are specialized.

"There’s not a one-size-fits-all for doctors offices, clinics and other health care facilities," he says. "And different specialties require different things on the back end."

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