Second in our series of Vertical Leaps.
Of all the vertical industries of interest to the channel, few hold more promise and opportunity than health care. Thanks to the continual release of targeted products, the evolving standards of care, and an increase in federal government incentives, health care IT is seeing substantial spending growth.
Last year, the U.S. health care IT sector topped $40 billion in annual sales and is expected to grow 23 percent annually through next year, according to RNCOS Research. A substantial amount of that spending comes from the $19 billion in federal grants approved by Congress in 2010 to update technology across the U.S. health care industry. Those funds continue to be rolled out industry-wide through 2015.
That dynamic spells substantial opportunity for the channel. Spending by global health care providers for IT services is growing at 6 percent annually and is expected to approach $31 billion this year, according to market analyses. Health care IT consulting is climbing at 9 percent per year and is the fastest-growing sub-segment in the global health care provider IT market.
According to a research report by HIMSS Analytics, 76 percent of health care provider organizations say they outsource technology services rather than hiring directly — and a whopping 93 percent have plans to outsource at least one area of their IT in the next year.
The health care IT results are even better for the best performing partners included on the latest Ingram Micro SMB 500, a list compiled by distributor Ingram Micro Inc.’s Business Intelligence Center and channel research services firm The 2112 Group, parent company of Channelnomics.com. Specialized IM SMB 500 solution providers serving health care clients grew sales revenues nearly 256 percent over the past three years.
At the top of the list of health care IT outsourcing requirements are the government-mandated move to Electronic Medical Records (EMRs) and the increased use of mobile devices and advanced imaging to improve patient care. At their heart, these are document management and printing challenges best served by a partner well versed in patient-care processes, medical systems and core business printing technology and services.
How lucrative is this space? Where enterprises across the board spend about 3 percent of their revenues on business printing and imaging, according to Gartner, health care organizations spend nearly three times that amount. According to All Associates, the average medical business spends an average of 8.6 percent of its revenues on document production and management.
As a result, solution providers are looking at the health care space as fertile ground for specialized services offerings that encompass EMRs and document management along with specialized print ecosystem to handle the array of unique requirements this vertical space demands.
For the print services partner with designs on health care, or for the experienced health care IT specialist looking to expand their practice with print services, here are some key considerations:
- Start With Focus
Many resellers and solution providers gain entrance into the health care market by targeting simpler solutions that are easier sold to underserved and technology-challenged organizations such as clinical laboratories and elder care and assisted living facilities. These make for ready customers in health care-specific accounting, billing, document management, and human resources applications and associated offerings.
- Elevate to Services
For health care technology partners that may have a foot in the door with basic IT services, there are a number of ways to leverage health care client engagements to move up into higher-touch/higher-profit services like managed print. Expandable managed print services can give solution providers significant parallel opportunities. Print solutions can be leveraged as a gateway to selling more complex technologies within a health care organization, or they can be scaled horizontally for delivery to similar connected facilities like affiliated surgi-centers, outpatient facilities, remote practices, and the like.
- Assess to Assist
The reason health care organizations spend so much on printing and document management is two-fold: the industry creates a massive amount of disparate data and existing systems often grew haphazardly. That’s left many organizations with Byzantine workflows and inefficient clusters of redundant equipment. Once the partner takes the leap to services, job one is evaluating and inventorying all print assets and processes with an eye toward infrastructure consolidation, better integration with EMR systems and overall improvements in efficiency.
- Think Small … And Mobile
Walk the halls of any hospital and it’s immediately clear. Space is at a premium in these facilities, and the more complex and critical the unit, the more crowded with technology it can become. Bringing a health care facility to the cutting edge in printing and imaging often means finding the smallest device that can do the given job with the greatest efficiency. Today’s printers, scanners, copiers and MFPs come in myriad form factors, so it behooves the partner to know the complete product line and emphasize compactness when space is at a premium.Hospitals are now also home to a vast array of mobile dives, particularly smartphones and tablets in use by clinicians for patient services. The managed print infrastructure needs to allow printing from these devices in a manner that is both user-friendly and highly secure. These value-added features are the stock-in-trade of the vertically focused IT and print services partner.
- Don’t Forget That 3rd Dimension
The health care industry may have been slow to adopt EMRs, but it has shown great affinity for 3D printing market, with a market that is expected to top $4 billion by 2018, according to Visiongain. Medical pros have found that 3D printing cant cuts costs and improve care when it comes to items such as custom implants. The technology is still nascent, so greenfield opportunity still exist, particularly in larger facilities and research centers. Partners should bone up on the technology with an eye toward delivering equipment that meets legal and safety requirements without stifling innovation.
Health care technology is experiencing amazing growth and innovation even as the industry itself wrestles with efficiency and profitability concerns. The convergence of these two factors makes the health care vertical ripe with opportunity for partners who can wring out inefficiencies and optimize IT systems while helping to guide providers toward greater performance in both care and revenues.
Of all of the systems integral to the transformation of health care IT, printing, imaging and document management stand out for their foundational importance to the industry’s evolution. Most every innovation and regulation in health care delivery has a business printing element at its core.
Partners looking to take advantage of this increasingly lucrative space can look to print services practices as the perfect prescription for increasing profits and growing their business.