We've mentioned before that electronic medical records (EMR) is a high-growth market for tech professionals, with more than 300 companies working on technologies and who knows how many consultants and tech experts working to implement systems not only in hospitals and government agencies but also in small private medical practices. As CNN reported last year, there is $20 billion of stimulus funds waiting for hospitals and doctors' offices that can prove by October 2010 that they use certified EMR "meaningfully."
Those hospitals and physicians' offices that qualify become eligible for Medicare and Medicaid incentives through 2014, which experts say will average $7 million per year per hospital. Those that do not use electronic health records by 2015 will get their Medicare funding reduced.
This new CNNMoney.com article takes a look at EMR in the real word, examining how it's being deployed at three doctors' offices around the country. One advocate: John Halamka, the dean of technology at Harvard Medical School, says:
I see the market expanding into interesting approaches, instead of shrinking and becoming dominated by a few monolithic players. There are so many heterogeneous things out there now, from large systems to iPhone apps.
Additionally, CNN reports, more than half of medical practices employing 50 or more doctors are using EMR systems, but less than 10 percent of practices made up of three physicians or fewer are, and that means there's a big upside if EMR experts can figure out how to make it cost-effective for smaller organizations. One idea is to rely on the cloud, putting the apps on the Internet and leaving very little hands-on tech work for the doctors' staffers themselves. There are big possibilities in this market. It could be the cure for many IT folks' career ills. --Don Willmott