The State of the Healthcare IT Market: Reflecting on the 2011 HCI 100 Ranking
Over the past few years, enterprise IT buying has changed drastically, especially in healthcare. The amount of information from trade media, vendors and industry associations can be overwhelming. Yet with all of this information available, buyers continue to turn to the simplest of information sources: vendor rankings.
One of the most notable of these in the healthcare market is the annual HCI 100, a revenue-based ranking of all software and services vendors in the U.S., compiled by Healthcare Informatics.
The list itself is a good indicator of who the players are and how they grow (or regress) from year to year. But, most people, especially in the fast-paced healthcare industry, don’t have time to parcel through the vendor names and abbreviation-laden product descriptions to identify market trends that would help them through the buying process.
So, to help you out, based on this year’s HCI 100, here are two major trends I’m watching in healthcare IT, and how you can use them to navigate the buying process of enterprise health information technology.
Grow or Die: A Year of Innovation and Acquisition
It’s no secret that the healthcare IT market is one of growth. An article on the ranking’s M&A activity mentions that in 2005, the company that held the #100 spot had $15 million in revenue. This year, the #100 company had $23 million in revenue.
This kind of rapid growth is fostering an IT market where companies either innovate and grow, or lose focus and fall off the list, whether through acquisition or otherwise. Even just comparing 2011 to 2009, here are some notables that fell off: Perot Systems (was 6, folded into Dell), Eclipsys (was 12, folded into AllScripts-Misys Solutions) and Perceptive Software (was 78, now operating as a freestanding company within Lexmark, but fell off the list).
That sends a message to healthcare IT vendors: If you’re not growing and innovating, you’re out. It’s becoming the expectation that the top vendors in this market are those that continue to provide new solutions to the market, propelling healthcare organizations forward.
In turn, the message for healthcare IT buyers is that your market is a hot one, and if vendors aren’t investing in it, they’re not invested in you. Be sure to ask vendors how often they release new software and what they’ve recently developed that delivered an answer to a healthcare organization’s specific need.
IT and Healthcare IT: The Playing Field Evens
When healthcare organizations started using IT to manage patient data years ago, it was a game of build or buy from a very specialized healthcare-only IT company that could accommodate the department-specific needs.
Fast-forward to today. Instead of “best of breed” with “breed” meaning “healthcare,” the shift is now more about the specific technology. Just look at the growth of Dell (2), EMC (14), IBM (22) and Microsoft (25).
Enterprise content management, also commonly called document management, is the perfect example. The needs of healthcare organizations have become heavily invested in strong integration capabilities with the EMR. But while they’re making these large investments, the CIOs are thinking about making sure that technology also applies to other departments. This gives a clear advantage to the IT vendors that supply products to more than just healthcare, as they have more experience than others in non-clinical functions.
No matter how you slice it, this kind of upward movement of healthcare technology vendors is a good thing for healthcare organizations. Given that the dollars are spent bulking up R&D budgets, it means better products available to the market, and more frequently. Combine this innovation with a proven, stable vendor that knows both the healthcare market and its own technology, and healthcare providers will have a better chance at IT success.