HIMSS Roundup: The Rush To Cash In

Mar 12, 2010


What we're witnessing is "the single fastest transformation of an industry in the history of the United States." The commentator: Glen Tullman, CEO of Allscripts. The industry: healthcare, where system vendors like Tullman's are at the center of driving that digital transformation.

Is this just hyperbole from an industry player? Consider that the federal government is spending upward of $20 billion to get healthcare providers to digitize their records and processes, and that 70% of that money must be spent over the next three years. For an industry still mired in 20th century practices, an electronic overhaul in just a few years would indeed be historic.

As with any industry, there's already a 10% group of IT early adopters in healthcare--the likes of Kaiser Permanente and Intermountain Healthcare and University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. It's that fat 70% of providers in the middle--the so-called fast followers--that will follow much faster than they normally would now that the government is brandishing the "meaningful use" carrot and stick.

In comparison, it took the auto industry more than a decade to automate its complex supply chain. Retailers took about as long to follow Wal-Mart’s lead. Airlines moved from paper ticketing to electronic kiosks in a couple of years, but that migration was relatively limited in scope. In healthcare, we're talking about one-sixth of the U.S. economy--providers, payers, insurers, and myriad other third parties--scrambling to collect, store, distribute, share, and act on information in wholly new ways over the course of just a few years. The people, process, and financial challenges are beyond daunting.

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