Has the EHR Bubble Burst?

The Business Model for Hacking Electronic Health Records

The HIT boom may be over

The bubble has burst. That is really not a good analogy of what is happening now in the HIT marketplace. Better to say the balloon is deflating at a pace that is accelerating. Back in the heady days of 2011 the promise of golden business modules was fueled by the anticipation of the CMS Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentives. The entire healthcare information infrastructure was to be transitioned to electronics systems and the government would be footing the bill.  What a market to be in! You would be selling products to customers who essentially didn’t have to pay.  Investors threw their money into the fray and begin backing initiatives that had little chance of succeeding .

Fast forward to 2013 and the bloom is off the rose. Bob Dylan said it best, “It’s not dark, but it’s getting there”. The market is glutted with too many choices. How many EHRs do we need? If a vendor couldn’t find traction in 2011 or 2012 they are realizing that 2013 is not looking so good. Might be better to pull the plug. Every day brings news of layoffs and a few leading EHR brands have been tarnished. The King has no clothes. 2013 is becoming the year of the shake out and shake down. What was a trickle is becoming a flood of bankruptcies, buy-outs, burned employees, questionable business practices, and disillusioned investors. What was looking like a slam-dunk business model is becoming a bad dream for many.

All is not doom and gloom. The sooner we can get this behind us, the better. There is still room and opportunity for new products and applications that solve real problems. Still a chance for the new and the novel to rise to the top, be recognized, and be embraced.  I can’t bear to look at any more “me to” products and redundant plans.  Show me something that quickens the pulse. Show me something that beckons to me. I’m tired of the desert; make me look at the stars.

Jim Tate is founder of EMR Advocate and a nationally recognized expert on the CMS EHR Incentive Program, certified EHR technology and meaningful use.