Networks predicted to dominate health IT

Summary:What is happening is similar to what Bloomberg and Thomson Reuters did in the finance space.

An investment and advice house called Marlin & Associates is out with a provocative report predicting rapid consolidation in the health IT space around health information networks.

While the firm's press release calls these "health information superstores," the text makes clear that moving Electronic Medical Record (EMR) data in order to extract value from it will be the key driver in this consolidation.

Afsaneh Naimollah (right, from Marlin's Web site) said her conclusion is based on a a series of surveys the company conducted of vendors during the year.

If her name is familiar to readers or other reporters here, her bio says she was on the board of ON Technologies before it was bought by Google, and that she advised on CNET's purchase of TechRepublic.

Naimollah compared what is happening to what Bloomberg and Thomson Reuters did in the finance space. Both companies developed terminals for analyzing market data, which later became services that earn billions of dollars.

Among the players the firm thinks might emerge are tech heavyweights like Microsoft and IBM, telecom companies AT&T and Verizon, and UnitedHealth's Ingenix unit, which has been buying smaller software companies for 18 months now.

What will make the difference will be business models, specifically innovations in how doctors and hospitals pay for Health ISP services.

While acknowledging the role the government's HITECH stimulus, as well as its CONNECT and DIRECT open source projects, have had in jump-starting all this, Naimollah insisted that private interests will drive future standards, much as private interests drive the standards of the current Internet.

Many aspects of the conclusion ring true. Doctors are looking for value from their EMR investments, networks can provide that value, so network applications could well be the "killer apps" that drive change and consolidation in the market.

But while hindsight is 20-20, foresight often isn't. The next few years in this market are going to be very exciting. It doesn't take a crystal ball or a survey to see that.

Topics: Networking, Banking, Health, IT Employment, Legal

About

Dana Blankenhorn has been a business journalist since 1978, and has covered technology since 1982. He launched the Interactive Age Daily, the first daily coverage of the Internet to launch with a magazine, in September 1994.

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