At Dr. Surinder Saini’s office in Newport Beach, California, the patients are no longer given forms attached to clipboards upon their arrival. They are now handed an iPad and make their entries via an electronic medium. There, they can choose the entries that will indicate allergies and various symptoms that they may be experiencing. An iPad is also used by the nurse when taking vital signs that are plugged directly into the electronic device. Dr. Saini can then pull up the information on his own iPad while being assisted with a list of potential diagnoses. The patients, themselves, for the most part are amazed at the procedure. After the patients have concluded their visit, the subsequent information is electronically stored in database along with the other patient records.
With incentives provided by the U.S. government and advances in technology, physicians are getting rid of their old paper records and integrating their offices with handheld EMR technology. As a result, there are a number of smaller Silicon Valley startup companies attempting to cash in on this innovation in order to compete with larger companies such as Allscripts (MDRX) and Cerner (CERN). The extra push comes in the form of the 2009 economic stimulus. This had set aside $27.4 billion in order to assist the transition to EMR.
Entrepreneurs and technology investors are proclaiming a “gold rush” similar to the boom in social medial. It is estimated that about 750 companies have joined in which is more than twice the number of existing EMR companies just two years ago. The main concern here is the number of companies that have products for sale along with money for capital – but very few customers, at present. This translates into companies that don’t have a future. Because of this, it is predicted that there will be inevitable consolidation.
The biggest problem that is being faced by these smaller companies is that there is still some uncertainty regarding the technology. This boils down to the ability of the different software programs to talk to one another in order to facilitate medical information sharing. Those who are tracking these things have noted that many of the current products may become obsolete as a result of this fact within 5-10 years. This consolidation is already in the works, it would appear. For example, In July, McKesson obtained insurance software supplier, Portico Systems, for $90 million and insurer Aetna (AET) purchased health information exchange company Medicity, back in December for $500 million. Even so, when all the smoke clears, the experts are predicting that the patients will be the beneficiaries of this changeover in medical record keeping.