Technology To Transform Health Care


elcome to the first installment of HealthCare Integrator, a supplement to both CRN and VARBusiness.

HealthCare Integrator will appear periodically to help solution providers understand where the true opportunities lie in this fast-growing vertical industry. It is designed to meet the information needs of VARs that currently target health-care providers, insurers and pharmaceutical companies as well as those looking at entering the market.

The health-care industry is going through some profound changes that are putting competitive and regulatory pressures on health-care providers, benefits payers and pharmaceutical companies to adopt information technology. The experts cite rising medical costs, an aging baby boomer population and an urgent desire to reduce medical errors as among the factors driving what likely will be sustained IT spending growth in this market. At the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society show last month, General Electric Chairman and CEO Jeffrey Immelt perhaps put it best: "Health care has got to change, and I would say the focus is on technology."

Perhaps not so coincidentally, the channel sees it the same way. In the next three years, approximately one-third of all technology VARs expect health care to present the greatest vertical market opportunity, according to VARBusiness' 2003 State of the Market research. As the changes unfold, the market opportunities will continue to expand beyond the traditional health-care ISVs and systems integrators to embrace storage integrators, wireless solution providers, bar-code integrators, security consulting firms and managed service providers, among others.

If you're a health-care integrator, you're in a good spot. If you're a solution provider looking to extend your presence in health care, there is an opportunity to make a change in an area that could improve the quality of life for everyone.

John Longwell is Editor/Special Reports for CRN.

Jeffrey Schwartz is Senior Editor for VARBusiness.

"The population is graying, and medical technology is increasing immensely. Health care is going to continue to be a growth area for us."
--Ernst Volgenau, president, founder and CEO, SRA International
"With the federal government moving to improve efficiencies to hold down medical costs, health care is looking to be a solid market [in] the next few years. Not just with wireless, but the bar-code scanning and data collection part of that, too."
--Mike Baur, president and CEO, ScanSource
"Health-care information technology is going to get big budgets in the future, and it's up to all of us to make it work. But I think we have to understand that the [jury] is still out."
--Jeffrey Immelt, chairman and CEO, General Electric