Health IT is one of the fastest growing industries in the world. With venture capitalists pouring into the sector, the US health IT market is expected to increase to twice its size by 2016. A study by Business Communications Company estimated a compound annual growth rate of 18.7% between years 2011 and 2016. However, with increased growth levels, markets tend to saturate. With nearly 800 EMR vendors competing for market share, the selection process can be quite intimidating for a few.
While the EMR industry may be a few decades old, it is still young and budding. The product itself though has begun to stabilize, the past few years only witnessing basic changes prompted by regulation. However, with that said the IT industry is in a state constant of change and new discoveries are likely to break ground. “If we are talking about innovation, we have already witnessed web based, tablet and smart phone compatible EMRs. I am sure the next generation of EMRs would be make documentation even more convenient. However, for now I believe we would be seeing growth in areas such as health information exchange and EMR interoperability”, says Josh Andrews, a health IT expert.
Most physicians though are waiting on industrial stabilization. With multiple EMR vendors out there, moving in first can be quite risky. Since EMRs are specialist solutions, they require a significant investment on part of the provider. With a couple of major products being removed from the market in recent years, there is a sense of uncertainty amongst investors. An EMR system is a one off expenditure for a provider, and discontinuation of such a product can be detrimental to the practice even when provided with a replacement product. Most users are able to experience workflow efficiency with regular use, as they become familiar with the application; it is easier to accomplish a task in lesser time. However, achieving workflow normalcy can take a while, which is why most professional prefer not switching products.
Keith Smith, a health IT consultant explains that while it may seem as if the industry is close to consolidation, the reality is far from it, “Most EMR vendors compete in local markets and tend to establish a niche for themselves. Then there are specialty EMRs, bespoke systems and tablet applications, the market is completely saturated. This is why it is highly unlikely for vendors to consolidate products, at least for the time being.” However, while the market may remain saturated, we might see user convergence towards certain products. We are already witnessing the emergence corporate giants in the industry. I think that alone should calm nerves.