In January, we released our HIE Market Report: Analysis & Trends which was extremely well-received. Sales have exceeded our rather optimistic projections – great for us. But what we are most proud of and honestly what keeps us going is that others are also gaining value from this report, especially those looking to purchase an HIE solution. As one large healthcare organization recently told us:
Your report has been invaluable in not only our vendor assessment process, but how our organization needs to think about our long-term HIE strategy.
We have also heard on numerous occasions the need to update the report as the market is changing so quickly and indeed it has. Several HIE vendors have been acquired, others have withdrawn from the market and there continues to be an influx of new entrants hoping to capitalize on what remains an immature market.
There are also a number of underlying trends that have disrupted the market to varying degrees. Thus, we have begun putting together our research plan for an update of the HIE report. As part of that process we have been contacting and interviewing those who purchased the first report to get their feedback on what they would like to see in the next edition. Several interviews have been conducted so far and we even had a briefing with one HIE vendor that we had given up for dead, but no, looks they are very much alive and may (emphasis on may) become a strong player in the future provided their new parent invests in them at the level required to build market share.
Following are a few snippets of what we have learned through these interviews so far:
Workflow, workflow, workflow: Embedding information exchange processes into the workflow of a clinician is becoming a very big issue. Now the question is: What are the top priority workflows that users wish to enable and what are the HIE vendors offering in this regard and how easy is it to configure workflows to meet specific needs?
Analytics & reporting: Everyone continues to talk about this issue, which has been a dominant issue for enterprise HIEs. What has changed though is that even public HIEs are now looking to enable analytics & reporting capabilities as one approach for creating a sustainable business model. HIE vendors are dedicating significant resources to address this need but there is very little understanding as to the actual maturity of these offerings.
Fragmentation in enterprise HIE market: In the last report we split the market into two large classifications, Public and Enterprise. Several we have interviewed suggested we ignore the public market and focus the next report solely on the enterprise market further breaking it down by the healthcare organization’s business strategy justification for deploying an HIE.
Dominant HIE business models: The HIE market continues to evolve rapidly and a key question posed to us is: How do we see this market evolving, where will it be in five years? Quite the loaded question but sure as hell fun to ponder. Currently, we see the market bifurcating into one group of companies that are providing solutions to facilitate care management and another group looking to provide solutions that facilitate operations management.
Clarify closed, EHR-driven HIE solutions versus standalone, open HIE solutions: Several EHR vendors are offering their own HIE solutions but these solutions do not readily connect to other EHRs thus mostly a closed system. Then we have the open HIEs, including some offered by EHR vendors that have the ability to connect to multitude of EHRs via interface engines. In the enterprise HIE market, there is considerable confusion among end users as to which path is optimal for their organization and this is a topic worthy of deeper discussion. (In our last report we simply ignored these closed systems as they were outside the scope of the report.)
Future impact of NHIN Direct: There has been a big push by those controlling the purse strings in Washington DC (election year coming up, need to show some successes with that $564M that went to States for HIEs)to drive adoption and use of NHIN Direct. Any vendor wishing to land a publicly funded project must now have the ability to enable NHIN Direct on their HIE platform. NHIN Direct, as we pointed out input last report, will commoditize basic messaging services of an HIE. Now the question is: How will NHIN Direct impact the broader healthcare sector and will it find its way into enterprise HIEs or remain an confined to public HIEs?
Plenty to chew on here and a lot of research will be required to tease out the answers to these questions. But that is exactly what analysts thrive upon and we are more than ready for the challenge, in fact we welcome it with open arms.
Now you may be wondering; who was that HIE vendor given up for dead? None other than the Boston-based firm Wellogic, a company that made a number of strategic, go-to-market blunders but has now been acquired by Alere. Alere, a seemingly successful and very acquisitive company, certainly has the resources to bring Wellogic back from the dead and make them a serious competitor going forward provided, as we stated earlier, they invest for the long-term as this market, though still relatively immature, is seeing ever larger players enter with deep pockets and far greater resources at their disposal.
John Moore is an IT Analyst at Chilmark Research, where this post was first published.