Job Growth in Healthcare and the EHR Bubble

It’s a crazy world that we’re living in today. The market is on a roller coaster. The riots in London. A lot of other crazy things happening. Not the least of which is the high unemployment in the US. Despite the challenging times, I’m not seeing as many of the same challenges in healthcare IT.

This was higlighted in some recent tweets I saw that talked about the job growth that’s happened in healthcare. That’s right, healthcare has actually had job growth. It’s quite amazing to consider, no?

Healthcare IT is especially interesting thanks to the $36 billion in EHR stimulus money. It’s a frother EMR and EHR market out there and I expect the froth is going to continue for another couple years. Is it fair to say that we’re in an EMR and healthcare IT bubble? I think so.

The question I’m starting to consider is what’s going to happen when the bubble pops? I’m not sure that we’re going to see one big pop in the EMR market. Maybe I’m wrong, but I think that we’re going to see a long protracted fall out of EMR and EHR companies. I guess this type of slow failing EMR companies is better than a major pop, but it still doesn’t sound good.

Well, at least it doesn’t sound good for those clinics who are using the EMR software from the EMR companies that fail. However, it’s going to present some interesting opportunities for EMR companies that can clean up the mess that’s left. Of course, most of us won’t know the details of the mess. We’ll just see flowery announcements about EMR companies selling off to larger EHR companies. However, those acquisitions will be a great customer acquisition buy for the EHR companies who have the cash and can transition users effectively to their EHR software.

How far off is this? I’d say at least 2 years. So, the next 2 years are going to be an interesting time for EHR vendors that are trying to position themselves for these types of acquisitions.

About the author

John Lynn

John Lynn

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com, a network of leading Healthcare IT resources. The flagship blog, Healthcare IT Today, contains over 13,000 articles with over half of the articles written by John. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 20 million times.

John manages Healthcare IT Central, the leading career Health IT job board. He also organizes the first of its kind conference and community focused on healthcare marketing, Healthcare and IT Marketing Conference, and a healthcare IT conference, EXPO.health, focused on practical healthcare IT innovation. John is an advisor to multiple healthcare IT companies. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can be found on Twitter: @techguy.

7 Comments

  • John,

    While it might seem like there’s an employment bubble forming, being driven by MU incentives, one thing you may not be taking into account is the ongoing maintenance of all the systems being implemented. Save for the realities of economic recession, when have you heard of IT departments shedding jobs as their footprint grows? Even if there’s consolidation in the marketplace, and there’s no doubt it will happen, the likelihood is that growth will continue. However, the difference will probably be that the growth will slow substantially. Also consider the fact that if consolidations or shake-out in the marketplace begins apace, then the migration projects will also start to take off in great numbers.

    As I am sure you are already thinking, considering your other recent posts, open source EHR’s might start looking very attractive to providers willing to adopt them.

    -Nate

  • I think if we are going to need to employ the same number of folks in the future to maintain the systems we are building today … well … we need to rethink this some.

  • There will certainly still be jobs in healthcare IT. Although, many of the consultants out there that are doing MU or EHR certification stuff will likely have a harder time and will have to shift what they do to have work I think.

    You’re right that there will be a whole new group of people that are needed to support the move from one EHR to another. I’d love nothing more than for open source EHR to take off.

  • Although small healthcare facilities fear the loss in productivity, EMRs streamline communication and increase efficiency. I agree with John in the sense that there will certainly still be jobs in healthcare IT. Also i agree that a whole new set of people will be needed to help transition from one EHR to another.

    If looking for additional information regarding EMRs and other communication and information technologies, check out our website. Thank you for the post!

  • “Although small healthcare facilities fear the loss in productivity, EMRs streamline communication and increase efficiency.”

    What color is your koolaid?

    “Also i agree that a whole new set of people will be needed to help transition from one EHR to another.”

    So HITECH really is just a jobs program for IT folks out of work since the Internet bubble!

    Where is the money going to come from to pay a separate bunch IT folks for this “transition”? PCPs aren’t going to pay for it. You want my renewal business … you’re going to have to eat the transition from my current EMR to yours.

    It’s not like PCPs need an EMR to practice medicine … and next time around if the government requires everyone to have one … well they are going to have to pay for 100% of it. If you think the 2015 hammer ONC thinks it has … wait until all the PCPs stop taking Medicare patients.

    Fool me once shame on you … fool me twice shame on you.

  • I reflected on this very topic today in a blog post: http://blog.galenhealthcare.com/2012/01/23/the-ehr-bubble/. My feeling is that the government incentive money drew a lot of warm bodies into performing implementations. Additionally, new vendors popped up as part of the great EHR land-grab. In this marketplace, everyone (vendors, consultants and practices) are trying to maximize their footprint and hence maximize their revenue. The great question that remains is what happens when the music stops and the stimulus money drys (to some degree)? It is then that we will find out which companies (both those providing a product – i.e. EHR vendors, and those providing services – i.e. consulting firms) have the strongest vision and a sustainable model.

  • So we’ll see a little separation of the wheat and the chaff? It will be interesting to see which emperor is found with his clothes off.

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