MSPs, many of whom are SMBs themselves, are in a position to assist the US healthcare industry advance its use of new IT tools, according to a recent white paper from non-profit IT industry association CompTIA (Computer Technology Industry Association). Industry estimates project spending in the healthcare IT market at more than $34 billion this year, and about one half of healthcare practices surveyed expected to increase IT expenditures in the next year.
However, CompTIA cautions that several barriers prevent smaller MSPs from effectively entering the healthcare market. These include a lack of resources for retraining IT professionals and fully integrating IT professionals in the assistance available to healthcare providers through the HIT (Health Information Technology) Regional Extension Centers, which are government-funded centers offering healthcare providers assistance on best practices to support and accelerate efforts to use Electronic Health Records, and data breach provisions which CompTIA says place unfair burdens on IT professionals.
CompTIA suggests the federal government take action to remove or at least ease these barriers so that small MSPs can have better access to healthcare IT users. In particular, smaller healthcare providers and their patients would benefit from increased IT adoption, while job retention and creation would increase among small MSPs. And in a refrain familiar to any MSP who has made a sales pitch, using managed services would help healthcare providers focus on their core competency, healing sick patients, rather than on IT adoption, integration and maintenance.
MSPs Should Remove BarriersWith all due respect to the federal government, anyone who observed the country's recent near-default on its multitrillion dollar debt is surely aware waiting for the government to remove barriers to the healthcare IT market will lead to a long period of uncertainty and inactivity, and little else. Therefore, MSPs need to take some steps on their own to remove these barriers.
While data breach/privacy restrictions may be onerous, considering there is a $34 billion market at stake, it is probably worth the investment of time and effort for MSPs to come into full compliance with them. Considering the extreme sensitivity of healthcare data, MSPs should take extra precautions in handling it, anyway.
As far as training and integration goes, MSPs should investigate the same type of options they may already offer their clients, such as hosted e-learning solutions, to help ease the burden.
Upfront investment of scarce money, time and human resources will be needed for MSPs to take advantage of the large and relatively open healthcare IT marketplace, but good things will not likely come to those who wait for the feds to ride in and save the day.