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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.”