In response to Mark’s post about the recent B.C. Canada Health Infoway vendor information sessions I have been contemplating the potential impact of Infoway’s new funding programs on the EMR vendor landscape. As Mark and I have some thoughts on this specific matter, I have decided to create a separate discussion thread.
I think that Infoway funding may be the final ingredient in a “perfect storm” that will forever change the EMR vendor landscape. There are already some powerful forces driving change in the EMR market including:
- The natural consolidation that occurs in any technology market. Just look at the PC market of 10 to 15 years ago or the ISP market a decade ago. Both were characterized by a large number of vendors, many of whom were relatively small. Over time several dominant vendors emerged while many smaller vendors either perished or were acquired by the larger vendors. The EMR market today reminds of the ISP market in which I worked in the mid to late 90’s.
- Provincial funding programs have given a small number of vendors “hunting licenses” that put them at a distinct advantage in those markets.
- The current economic conditions will put increased pressure on the smaller vendors and may make it difficult for many of them to get the financing or investments they need to fund sales, marketing, and R&D.
Infoway funding for EMRs will exacerbate these conditions. To start, the infusion of new $’s into the market will drive many vendors to be more aggressive. Those with $’s or the ability to raise $’s will look at acquisition as a way to enter provincial markets in which they might not have a presence. Larger vendors, particularly US based vendors, will see Canada as attractive market in which to do business and seek ways to enter the market. Finally, the speed with which Infoway will have to move to spend the new funds (it appears they have a limited time in which to do so) will put considerable strain on the smaller vendors as they simply may not have sales and implementation resources to meet the demand.
I think that we are about to witness a “perfect storm” that will result in a major shakeout in the EMR market over the next two years. Further, the key role that EMRs will play as a service delivery platform will drive a level of “standardization” in this market that we have not yet seen to date. Mark has some interesting thoughts on this last observation that I will let him share.