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VARs looking to reap the benefits of the increased spend in Electronic Health Records (EHR) and the corresponding value-added services that go along with it, may find themselves in an improving market position, according to a new report by Pricewarterhouse Coopers.

The report, titled Ready or not: On the road to the meaningful use of EHRs and health IT, shows healthcare CIOs are leery they will be able to demonstrate “meaningful use” objectives to apply for incentives beginning next year, and into the deadline of 2015, and that spells good news for VARs that can help. The objectives were laid out after the passage of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act a year and a half ago, which gave healthcare providers the directive to get on the EHR bandwagon, demonstrate “meaningful use” of their systems and receive increased payments.

The report is based on a survey of  120 hospital CIOs that represent some of the most sophisticated hospitals in the country. All of the 120 CIOs surveyed are members of the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME).

According to the report, only half of the CIOs surveyed say they are prepared to meet the first set of meaningful use requirements and objectives for 2011, and 8 to 10 are “concerned” or “very concerned” they will not be able to demonstrate the rest of the objectives set for 2015.

The later requirements set for 2015 include objectives such as advancing care processes through decision support, providing and populating patients’ personal health records electronically, and  demonstrating the improvement of health outcomes by sharing data with outside organizations such as insurers, other providers and patients themselves.

So, why are hospitals struggling?

According to PwC, the stimulus package may be fueling the collection of large amounts of electronic data by health care systems, but the existing infrastructure to support the meaningful use of that data is insufficient. Because EHR cannot be done in a vacuum, everyone needs to jump on board and start sharing data through what PwC calls a “national health information superhighway” and it just doesn’t exist yet, according to the CIOs surveyed.

"Healthcare organizations are building high-performance race cars to travel back country roads," said Daniel Garrett, leader of the health information technology practice, PricewaterhouseCoopers.  

VARs that can help healthcare providers figure out how to use the data more efficiently may be at an advantage. Limited opportunities remain for the resale of EHR systems, but providing value-added integration services and unified communications hardware and services as Dimension Data does may be a good option for VARs looking to grab a piece of the stimulus money and position themselves in a way that provides big value for health care providers.