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One of the biggest buckets of money expected to trickle down into the IT market as a result of the Obama administration’s economic stimulus package, or American Recovery and Reivestment Act, comes from the $20.4 billion directive to modernize hospitals and physician practices through the creation of electronic medical records and the end game of making them interoperable.

Technology companies will be in the position to provide the technology behind the EMRs themselves, but also will be called upon to create the infrastructure to ensure a doctor’s office can see the records generated by an affiliated hospital. And even within hospitals themselves, departments typically don’t talk to one another. This creates the opportunity for solution providers to create multiple points of contact and also to offer the technology that can integrate information from the various departments, says Janet Waxman, vice president of infrastructure channels and alliances at research company IDC.

The part of the economic stimulus package that funds this enormous health care project represents a huge opportunity for resellers and solution providers. IDC, which recently presented recommendations to solution providers during a Webinar sponsored by distributor Avnet, notes that the scope of the projects will likely be too much for vendors to do on their own. Vendors must enlist the support of solution providers to assist in the sales and implementation of the technology.

Waxman recommends that solution providers look beyond the hospitals and doctors, too, to gain even more points of contact. For example, foundations and universities are typically tied to hospitals as well, and pharmaceutical companies are often tied in with doctors.

“The more touch points you have going in here the better off you will be,” she says. That’s because, she notes, the environment will be competitive as many companies target these opportunities.

Another option for those who have yet to establish these kinds of customer relationships is to partner with another solution provider who does offer those relationships and expertise, Waxman says. But if you do approach these health care companies, make sure to do your research, she says.

“Don’t get involved without knowledge,” says Waxman. “Be careful not to join this club: ‘I’ve been to the doctor so I understand the health care business.’”

But the money won’t be available right away. Some experts say it will start trickling down at the end of this year. Others say it won’t come until 2010, and IDC believes that the bulk of it will only become available in 2011. That delay may lull solution providers into believing they have plenty of time to get lined up with potential customers and vendors, but Gartner’s Tiffani Bova, an analyst covering the channel, says that the time is now to establish these relationships.

Indeed, IDC agrees, saying solution providers today should focus on acquiring expertise, resources and alliances to help bolster offerings in the areas of telemedicine, network infrastructure and networking management services, analytics, business and clinical intelligence, data center hosting services, and outsourcing of infrastructure and customer support services.

Vendors and distributors are already examining the stimulus package, as portions of it are implemented, for opportunities, and many are helping their partners get on board with those funds. Keep in mind that areas like security will also be critical as health care providers must protect patient privacy at the same time they are implementing technology to enhance the sharing of information.

IDC analyst Judy Hanover also recommends that solution providers consider new partnerships with health care IT and EMR vendors, including the following:

  • Inpatient EMR: Cerner, Eclipsys, Epic, GE, Meditech, McKesson
  • Ambulatory EMR: Allscripts-Misys, eClinicalWorks, GE Centricity, Greenway, iMedica, NextGen
  • Health Information Exchange: Axolotl, CareFx, Medicity, Orion Health Systems
  • Voice Recognition: Nuance, M-Modal
  • Middleware: Covisint, IBM, InterSystems, Medicity, Oracle, Orion
  • Clinical intelligence tools: InforSense, MedAl, TeraDoc, Zynx Health
  • Wireless and wired communications equipment: Alcatel-Lucent, Aruba, AT&T, Cisco, Extreme Networks, Meru, Nortel
  • Security: CA, Imprimitiva, Novell, Symantec, Sentillon
  • Remote patient monitoring: Health Hero Network, Honeywell HomMed, Intel, Microsoft, Nonin, Omron, Philips Medical System
  • Telemedicine technologies: AMD Global Telemedicine, AT&T, Cisco, Intel, Microsoft, Viterion, Welch-Allyn
  • Distance learning: Alcatel-Lucent, AT&T, Microsoft, Nortel, Sony