UPDATE: Big Winners from Obama EHR Stimulus (HITECH)

Posted on December 10, 2010 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

I figured it was about time for me to do a post updating one of my top posts from 2009. This was a post I posted on February 19, 2009. It was REALLY early on in our understanding of the HITECH act and EMR stimulus incentive program. In the post, I predicted the Big Winners of the Obama EHR stimulus program. Let’s take a look at this list, see if anything’s changed and look at new additions to the list.

First, I loved the premise of my original post that with the government spending $36 billion (in the previous post the estimate was $20 billion) there have to be some people who dramatically benefit from the spending.

Here’s a look at my original list of Big Winners and my thoughts today:

  • EHR Vendors – In the short term I think that EHR vendors have taken a real hit. While we waited for the government to define meaningful use and certified EHR there was a dramatic slow down in EHR adoption. Now that we’re coming out of that funk I can see a lot of excitement and energy out of the EHR vendors. I predict this HIMSS is going to be absolutely electric. It’s easy to note that interest in EHR software has increased thanks to the stimulus money. This interest is going to spill over to every EHR vendor out there. Some will do better than others, but all will start seeing some sales now. Long term, those that provide the best service to these initial adopters (or cash out first) will be the long term big winners.
  • Health Care IT Consultants (ohhh…maybe I should become one) – First, I’m not likely to become a consultant any more than I am now. This blogging gig is far too good. Although, I’ll keep that in my back pocket. Me aside, the good healthcare IT consultants I know have a lot of work. Some have changed their names to meaningful use consultants or EHR certification consultants, but overall they’re doing well. A bunch are also working at RECs which doesn’t seem like a bad gig at all (as long as they meet their targets).
  • Existing EHR Users – I still see them winning. The doctors I know with an EHR are loving the idea of the EHR stimulus. First, it doesn’t matter too much to them if they get it or not. Second, they see it as something that likely won’t take that much effort beyond what they’re doing now. We’ll see if they change their minds once they get into the nitty gritty details of meaningful use. They might find changes for meaningful use harder than they think.
  • CCHIT (if they get chosen) – Well, CCHIT wasn’t chosen. Although, CCHIT made a really smart move to do the Preliminary ARRA certification as a way to basically lock in most of the top EMR vendors to their EHR certification. I guess I don’t see CCHIT as the big winner, but still a winner. EHR certification is still a requirement and will be for a while to come, so they still are in business. They just finally have some competition.
  • Hospital Systems – There’s just far too much money available for them to ignore the EMR stimulus. Not to mention the penalties are meaningful at the scale they have. I guess I can see this going both ways. Those hospital systems with great leaders and effective organizations are going to do very well. Those with less effective leaders and poorly run organizations are going to have issues.
  • Health and Human Services (HHS) – Maybe I should have said ONC or the healthcare IT portion of HHS. It’s an exciting time for healthcare and I think Blumenthal has worked hard to do things right. It is government work, but I applaud what seems to be some real sincere effort.
  • Obama’s HIT Donors – I’ll leave this one alone.

Now for a quick look at the other winners that I might not have considered almost 2 years ago:

  • IT Companies – I’m not sure why I didn’t consider this, but I’m amazed at how many IT companies out there are helping with EMR implementations and their businesses are benefiting from the EMR stimulus.
  • HIE – It’s a bit early to tell exactly how this is all going to play out, but the EMR stimulus and meaningful use requirements have extended the life of a bunch of HIE companies. Not to mention many have been acquired because of all the activity. It’s a good time to be an HIE company.
  • Trade Organizations – I think many organizations have seen all this buzz around EMR as a great opportunity for them to expand their services. It’s amazing how many different trade organizations have gotten their hands into the EMR world.
  • EMR Bloggers – Let’s just say, the EMR stimulus money has worked for my family. I’m thankful for that!

I’m sure there are probably others I’m forgetting. I tried to convince myself that doctors and patients should make this list, but couldn’t find a way to do it. Certainly some doctors and patients are going to receive the benefits, but I fear that many practices are going to select the “Jabba the Hutt EMR software” that is large, powerful and difficult to use and regret it. I hope I’m proven wrong.