Where’s the IT money? There’s money for EMR in the ARRA

We all know what the new business environment means: You Are Expendable.

Given that, every American should be looking hard at where their future opportunities lie. IT and security people, and software developers, should be looking toward the opportunities the changes in the business landscape bring. One of the dead-certain growth areas is electronic medical records (EMR), also known as electronic health records (EHR). This was already a hot area before the federal stimulus package, but now it’s set to explode.

Do your homework: take a look at the Wikipedia entry for the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Recovery_and_Reinvestment_Act_of_2009

And go to the Government Printing Office site and download a PDF of the text of the act at http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/PLAW-111publ5/content-detail.html.

Executive summary: there is substantial federal money available as 10-to-1 matching funds. Now that’s interesting. But wait; there’s more.

Peruse this Department of Health and Human Services document: http://edocket.access.gpo.gov/2010/E9-31217.htm. It’s tremendously verbose, packed with legalese and terrifically long, but then comes the meat: incentive payments.

There’s a graduated scale of payments over five years, starting at $15,000 the first year and then reducing, which gives every qualified provider up to $41,000 for an EMR implementation. That’s a lot of money for private practices, my friends.

Now, there are significant challenges in all of this. First is getting involved with this business: there are some very big gorillas in this cage, for one thing. Everyone from Microsoft to McKesson (http://www.mckesson.com/en_us/McKesson.com/) wants in on this.

But small practices are just annoying to these big guys, and that’s where IT consultants and other people involved with EMR implementations are going to have a heyday. There are hundreds of thousands of small practices across the US that are going to have to get on this train. And what do they want? Millions of features? Whiz-bang user interfaces?

Heck no. They want competent, intelligent people who know IT, security, networking, and hopefully a little bit about the medical environment. Above everything else, they want someone they can trust, someone responsive to their needs and their emergencies, someone who can help guide them through choosing a system, implementing it, maintaining it, and getting paid by the Feds for doing it.

That’s where I come in. And where you can too, if you have the inclination. Drop me a line if you have experience in this business, are interested in getting into it, or are a physician or practice looking for an EMR consultant.