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Electronic healthcare records (EHR) are always at the top of the healthcare IT agenda these days. Healthcare organizations of all sizes are trying to figure out how the can qualify for the $19.2 billion the Federal government is making available to fund the development of EHR systems via the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).

But the portion of the act dedicated to healthcare, known as the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (HITECH), has some fairly strict requirements for demonstrating actual “meaningful use” of EHR over the next couple years.

While major hospitals have the resources to drive their own EHR deployments, the vast majority of healthcare providers are short on funding and the necessary IT expertise. As a result, many of them have begun to look to cloud computing as option that essentially allows them to share the cost of EHR across multiple providers.

To help solution providers in the channel address those needs Ingram Micro this week teamed up with Hewlett-Packard to create a series of offering that leverage HP workstations and tablets to access cloud services that are being managed by Ingram Micro on behalf of the solution provider.

The first products and services to be made available via the HP Healthcare Alliance program from Ingram Micro include a service from Parental Health that monitors elderly patients in their homes and image displays from Canvys. Ingram Micro will also make available a workflow management service for clinicians that was developed by Medweb.

Mike Humke, vice president of Ingram Micro’s public sector and vertical markets in the U.S., says Ingram Micro sees a significant opportunity to expand the number healthcare-related services it offers via the Ingram Micro Cloud Marketplace.

As healthcare organizations continue to gain confidence in the security of cloud computing, Humke says the cost of managing their practices is going to push the vast majority of them to embrace EHR in the cloud. That creates a significant opportunity for solution providers that may opt to build a data center to serve healthcare providers in a particular region, or simply leverage the cloud computing investments being made by Ingram Micro. In many cases, solution providers may opt to do both.

Regardless of the outcome of the debates concerning the legality of certain aspects of some portions of recently enacted healthcare legislation, the economic benefits of EHR are become too obvious to ignore. The reality is that the vast majority of the healthcare systems in the U.S. still run on paper-based processes. Providers of healthcare services not only need IT help, they need solution providers that can help them re-engineer entire workflow processes. In some ways that may prove to an inhibitor to EHR adoption, but it’s more likely to be a significant opportunity for solution providers that make available business consulting services that come packaged with their IT services.

Change is coming to the way healthcare is delivered. Change is almost always good for the channel. If solution providers stay close to their local healthcare providers it’s only a matter of time before all the changes to healthcare finally make something good happen for the solution provider.