Cynthia Porter is president of Porter Research, an Atlanta-based company that provides go-to market research services to generate quantitative and qualitative knowledge of market opportunities, customer loyalty and experience, win-loss sales analysis, brand awareness, and other offerings. Cynthia and her team were instrumental in collaborating with Ben Rooks and his associates at the San Francisco-based ST Advisors, and the team of editors at Healthcare Informatics, to support the development of the Healthcare Informatics 100 this year, as they have been in the past. Recently, Porter spoke with HCI Editor-in-Chief Mark Hagland regarding her perceptions of the current evolution of the healthcare IT vendor marketplace. Below are excerpts from that interview.
How do you see the healthcare IT vendor market developing right now?
I think more and more vendors are beginning to pay attention to end-users’ needs for technology that is more compatible with their workflows. I¹m hearing the term “user experience” a lot more than ever before. Now that physicians and clinical staff have had a few months—or in some cases, years—of utilizing EMRs under their belts, they are starting to communicate to vendors their need for technology designed to best fit their workflows and patients' needs, not necessarily their need for technology that helps them get to meaningful use incentives as fast as possible.
What I’ve also been hearing/seeing in the market is a ground swell of new innovation coming from and going back to the clinician end-user base—studying what clinicians do to provide optimal patient care, and then architecting the software systems so that they become a natural extension of their activities, as opposed to creating a cumbersome set of difficult tasks that must be added to their existing daily tasks. Many new HIT companies are focusing on the user first—and creating applications that fit like gloves to their activities. Such applications are ready when they need them, and are simple, intuitive—making clinicians more efficient and effective in giving of care. The entire industry needs to look at healthcare through the eyes of the clinician and patient; that is where real innovation begins.
Another angle that I think we'll see impacting the Healthcare Informatics 100 list in future years is the sheer number of healthcare IT startups that are coming around the bend right now, especially with strong incubator programs like Rock Health out there. And I think this entrepreneurship is really being fostered--at least in some small way--by all these open source/data challenges and contests that are coming from the government. I mean, with CMS [the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services] spending $1 billion on healthcare innovation projects, there are going to be a flood of small businesses coming onto the scene over the next few years. It will be really interesting to see how these folks transition into the broader, more established industry. I suspect many will get bought up by larger players, but some might just stick it out. Everyone's always on the lookout for the next Epic.
What are the big trends you’re seeing?
Kind of tying in with the small business angle is a phenomenon that I probably shouldn¹t even call a trend at this point; but it’s the trend towards mobile healthcare. It's pretty entrenched in the industry by now, and is definitely here to stay, but the who and the how are still unanswered questions, especially with all the attention providers are paying to the “Bring Your Own Device” movement. Will iPads take over healthcare? Will telemedicine be the big money-saving game changers that some believe they'll be? As hospitals try to get more mobile, how are they going to pay for adequate security to protect their patients' personal information? We’ll have to find out. Two other brief observations: the number of companies that are bridging the provider-payer divide continues to grow; and it’s quite noteworthy how quickly vendors have moved forward to become accredited in the past two years.