HITECH Stimulus Funds are Working
There’s one metric, above all others, that represents the state of the healthcare information technology industry – the number of two-story vendor booths at HIMSS. While there are always vendors that take up an acre or two of floor space, the number of exhibitors with double-decker exhibitions fluctuates based on the industry’s outlook.
At HIMSS 2008, just before the recession hit hard, I counted a dozen two-story booths in the literally mile-long corridor of vendors. Last year, when the economy was tanking and the HITECH stimulus $ was a big unknown, I only saw two double-decker booths. This year, we’re probably in the 6-8 range, despite the economically tumultuous times. The reason for the rebounding is undoubtedly, the ARRA/HITECH Stimulus funds.
Thanks to the adept implementation of the legislation by the Office of the National Coordinator, the support of organizations like HIMSS & HITSP, and the enthusiasm of an industry primed for a federal booster shot, vendors and providers alike are spending $ and hiring people as if we weren’t recovering from the great recession. People on the exhibit floor, on the shuttles, and in the bars are abuzz with talk of “meaningful use” and the tone is overwhelmingly optimistic.
If the goal of the HITECH stimulus was to get this sector of the economy moving again while advancing the use of electronic medical records, the rebounding number of two-story booths means we can safely check-off one of those goals off the list. Based on the progress I’ve seen and the discussions I’ve heard so far, the second is not far behind.
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