Top Ten Predictions for Healthcare IT in 2010

By John Moore
10:26 AM

There are plenty of top 10 predictions on any number of topics, but it is rare to find one focusing on healthcare IT, Chilmark Research's bailiwick. And while we may be just a little late in getting this out there onto the streets, it is mid-January after all, our quick search on the net did not turn up any other posts with such a finely tuned agenda so here goes...

1) HITECH Act Suffers Birthing Pains: Despite the hard work of many to create clear guidelines (meaningful use & certification of EHRs), roll-out extension centers, and establish Health Information Exchanges (HIEs), we have only just begun.  The devil is in the details (implementation/execution) and 2010 will be marked by a number of stumbles and most likely a significant amount of wasted tax dollars.

2) Hospitals and Large Practices Bite the Bullet, EMR Vendors Cheer, Small Practices Look on with Jaundiced Eye: With a clear signal from Washington on what will be required to get HITECH funding/reimbursement for EMR purchases/upgrades to meet meaningful use, hospitals and large practices will begin seriously evaluating and buying EMR solutions (HIMSS will be hopping this year).  That’s the good news.  Bad news, most small practices where estimates of 80% of all patient-physician interaction occur, will still be behind the eight ball on EMR adoption and struggle to meet HHS-efined time-lines for reimbursement.

3) Consolidation will Accelerate: Large HIT vendors will acquire smaller firms to either meet meaningful use guidelines (e.g. acquire PHR company to meet 2013 requirements) and move into adjacent downstream markets. Don’t be surprised if a large IT vendor from outside the industry makes a buy to move into this now lucrative market.

4) Regulatory Crackdown Increases: Not a tough prediction as the new administration has signaled that it will enforce laws on the books that the previous administration simply ignored.  With more stringent HIPAA guidelines now in play expect to see some significant fines such as the one levied against CVS for $2.25M in 2009.  IT security (software & services) will be another hot market in the healthcare sector in 2010.

5) Second Gen mHealth Apps Enter Market -- Melding of Smartphones and Devices Remains Nascent: With literally thousands of mHealth apps now available, most of them crappy one dimensional apps, we will begin seeing more sophisticated mHealth apps enter the market.  These apps will also command a price, but their value will easily justify the purchase for many consumers.  In 2009 there was also a lot of buzz around the melding of med devices and smartphones, (remember the iPhone 3GS intro with J&J on stage demo’ing Lifescan). That buzz faded rapidly when FDA showed up to inquire about compliance.  FDA approval requirements/process (and aforementioned strengthening of enforcement by this administration) will limit introduction and thus proliferation of new innovative devices hinged to a smartphone.

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