A Thriving Practice
Years ago, when I first started covering the health-care IT space, I learned some key lessons about the vertical. First, health care isn't quite recession-proof; "recession-resistant," as one solution provider I know describes it, is probably more accurate. Second, it's a uniquely challenging market: "regulatory hell," "glacially slow to change" and "no place for the weak" are all descriptors I've heard, and compared to some others, seem like compliments. And now? "HIPAA, meet HITECH?" The mind already boggles.
| Top 100 Health-Care VARs, Part 1
Top 100 Health-Care VARs, Part 2
| Top 100 Health-Care Vendors, Part 1
Top 100 Health-Care Vendors, Part 2
But to look at what's happening in health-care IT now -- where technology's role in reshaping not only systems, but the very essence of how patients are cared for -- it's hardly an overstatement to call the opportunities unprecedented. Heard of "meaningful use?" Hard to miss it. But often lost in the endless and overheated discussion of proper implementation of electronic medical records (EMRs) is the question of how to support them: the back-end infrastructure needed, the service models and platforms that will supply them, drive them and connect them, and the human element -- namely, how care providers and support staff will use them to improve patient care, not just make it electronic.
It's here where the savvy solution providers, developers, vendors and integrators will help capture all those dollars the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) stimulus, among other sources, promises -- and become the go-to technologists for the health-care systems of tomorrow. Health-care spending is growing; one noted public sector IT house, Input, has state- and local-level spending on health IT in the U.S. expanding to $9.9 billion by 2015. Many of the federal government's health-care IT incentives went into effect this month -- Stage 1 of the incentive program ends Sept. 30, 2012 -- and with many health-care organizations not expecting to achieve "meaningful use" in their systems until 2012 and possibly longer, they're under the gun. The dollars and the opportunity are flowing now.
What specifically are solution providers saying about this opportunity? Everything Channel at its recent XChange Public Sector partnered with industry organization CompTIA to survey solution provider and IT integrator attendees on future investments, sales trends and attitudes, and the hurdles they see ahead. Some key findings:
NEXT: The Key Findings
• Six out of 10 solution providers/integrators said the health-care industry provides 10 percent to 15 percent of their company's total revenue. Nine percent said the majority of their revenue is generated from the health-care market. Some 63 percent said sales to hospitals and doctor's offices contribute the most toward their health-care business segment.
• As stimulus dollars become more available, 87 percent of solution providers expect new health-care-related business. More than half, or 53 percent, say they are proactively reaching out to health-care providers to help them tap into those dollars.
• Three-quarters of the respondents said hospitals are growing markets for potential IT business; 72 percent characterized health centers and clinics as growing as well. More than 60 percent rated group practices, both medical and dental, as revenue generators.
• Respondents said IT solutions/technologies in health care should center on virtualization (33%), security (32%), cloud/SaaS (29%) and mobility wireless (28%).
Now on to the lists: Here at CRN we don't compile these to end the conversation. Quite the opposite -- the arguing begins after. The compilation itself is hardly an exact science, and we don't intend our health-care listings to be complete and unimpeachable guides to all that is exciting and relevant about health-care IT in the channel. A truly comprehensive guide to all of the players in the EMR software space alone, for example, could fill a list twice this size and the number of VARs that offer a health-care solution of some kind -- or serve the overall market in some capacity -- is well into the thousands. But our senior editors sought to identify 100 vendors and 100 solution providers -- and plenty of technology companies that through their services could appear on either list -- with a legitimate stake in the health-care channel. They are those who will chase the opportunities that present themselves now, and may yet define the opportunities to come.