How IT Entrepreneurs Can Profit from Healthcare Reform and Other Tips from Boston’s Health 2.0 Insiders

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provide care to patients away from traditional clinical settings like hospitals and closer to where most people live and work. For example, the center is spinning out a startup that to provide patients with a Web-based system to track their blood pressure at work or home.

“As payment reform rumbles through, we start to be paid more for quality and outcomes rather than the numbers of transactions,” Kvedar said, “and organizations such as ours are looking at this as a way to provide care to patients in a much more efficient and higher-quality way.”

—How the electronic health record is changing healthcare. To begin the discussion, Halamka took a moment to define some important terms in this debate. Electronic health records, he said, are electronic records that are compatible when combining multiple types of patient data such as their prescription history and medical images, among others. Electronic medical records, conversely, are not interoperable and are limited in the data included in them.

In Washington, Halamka said, he is co-chairman of a recently formed committee that will recommend important standards for how doctors will need to use electronic health records to qualify for federal subsidies. This “meaningful use” standard is expected to be a major factor in how well the government’s big investment in electronic records brings returns in the form of reduced overall healthcare costs and improved patient care.

—Moderator Jeff Fagnan wanted to know where the panelists see business opportunities, and the answers from the panelists were a bit surprising. Implementing the healthcare IT could be just as big a deal as creating new programs, Halamka said. According to Halamka, about 50,000 full-time workers will be needed to support the nationwide adoption of electronic records. About half a million doctors don’t use electronic records in the U.S., so these workers will be needed to prove implementation, support, and training to these physicians as they adopt electronic records.

“However prosaic this sounds, maybe you can come up with ways to do this with tele-training types of technologies or scaling your staff through the use of tele-presence,” Halamka said to the innovators in the room. “But create electronic health record training, implementation, and support companies.” He also acknowledged that there is $2 billion in federal money set aside to pay for support and training related to electronic records adoption. Nardone added that managed services companies would also be needed to enable doctors to manage their practices in a healthcare environment where there is greater demand for them to provide patient health information to payers.

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