During the economic downturn, previously forecasted gains in market growth crashed across a variety of industries. However, healthcare IT remained a growth industry, fueled by a variety of factors, including new legislation outlining deadlines for the move to electronic medical records (EMR). This year alone, market research firm Competitive Intelligence predicts the healthcare IT market to reach $73.1 billion, with a forecasted growth into 2014 of over $14 billion.
The federal stimulus bill passed last year is, of course, a big driver for the move to electronic medical records. The “pay for performance” federal incentives are rapidly motivating doctors and hospitals that have not yet done so, to move to electronic health systems. Organizations that make the investment will enjoy higher incentive payments on Medicare and Medicaid beginning in 2011. Organizations that do not move to an EHR system will suffer penalties, beginning in 2015.
Beyond stimulus and federal regulation, healthcare IT spending is also being driven by a need to increase the efficiency of monitoring and providing care to a rapidly growing percentage of an aging population as well as reducing liability of healthcare companies. To accomplish all of these goals, investments in systems and networks that support new applications, as well as the adoption of mobile applications, hardware, and other software to support patient care, patient records, and next generation medical diagnostics and imaging are all on the docket for the healthcare industry.
For VARs, the EMR space poses challenges for market entry because of the limited availability of reseller opportunities for EMR software itself. Although, slowly, new opportunities are emerging, few software companies are partnering with resellers and packaging their products for resale.
But even if you can’t ink a reseller deal with an EMR vendor, you can ride on the coattails of ongoing EMR implementations to provide supporting technology and solutions.
"The federal stimulus funding in the HITECH Act has sparked the health care industry to invest in systems, software, and network infrastructure to support EHR implementation," says Stephanie Atkinson, Managing Partner at Compass Intelligence.
"The push for compliance is uncovering pent up demand and giving light to delayed technology investments."