The US healthcare IT market is currently in its infancy with low adoption rates across many segments, providing key opportunities for healthcare IT (HIT) vendors wishing to enter the market.
The federal government is placing heavy emphasis on electronic health records (EHRs) by providing financial investment into demonstration projects and driving the establishment of universal standards. The customer environment is highly heterogeneous, adding to the complexity of the marketplace but understanding the intricacies and idiosyncrasies of such an environment will be essential to achieving success in the US healthcare market.
"The US healthcare system is in a difficult position as it tries to deliver quality care to a rapidly aging population, while reducing the actual cost of healthcare," notes Frost & Sullivan Industry Analyst Konstantinos Nikolopoulos in a recent study on the U.S. Healthcare Market and Implications for the Healthcare IT Industry. "Healthcare information technology will have an important role to play in the future of the US healthcare system due to its ability to assist or directly address these issues."
The future of the US healthcare system is expected to be affected by the public health crisis. At present, the US Congress is struggling to provide healthcare for approximately 34 million seniors. The cost of caring for the senior population will increase rapidly, as the 76 million baby boomers begin to retire and healthcare workforce shortages continue to pressurize the US healthcare system.
However, many physicians are unwilling to adopt healthcare IT solutions due to the lack of technical expertise and staff, perceived changes to workflow and the absence of a need to adopt. Such resistance is more prevalent in independent physician practices as opposed to salaried physicians due to their roles in the decision-making process.
"The benefits of adopting HIT are often realised at the employer and insurance plan level as opposed to the provider level," observes Mr. Nikolopoulos. "Because ROI is difficult to measure and is not often seen in the short term, many physicians are reluctant to adopt, although this barrier is being reduced, particularly in the EHR and ePrescribing arena due to increased third-party funding."
To leverage the market’s considerable potential, Frost & Sullivan says vendors need to educate third-party payers on both the tangible and intangible benefits that they could receive by funding IT solutions for providers. Vendors should seek to collaborate with insurance companies and employers to drive adoption of healthcare IT within specific regions, even as the ability to highlight product capabilities and features to physicians will provide an additional step in the same direction.