VARs Find Opportunities in Healthcare Thanks to Feds

Channel players such as Avnet, Dell and Microsoft unveiled plans to tap into the approximately $180 billion in federal funding for healthcare-related spending that will flow from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).

It's not often the Federal Government gives the channel much to cheer about, but the recent American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) -- which sets aside $22.8 billion to expand and modernize healthcare IT -- has put vendors, VARs and distributors in a party mood.

Signed into law by President Obama this February, ARRA encourages physicians, hospitals and other healthcare providers to adopt and use electronic health records (EHRs) as well as other technology to advance the delivery of healthcare.

Channel companies as diverse as Avnet (NYSE: AVT), Dell and Microsoft recently unveiled plans and strategies to tap into the approximately $180 billion in federal funding for healthcare-related spending that will flow from ARRA. VARs such as Perot Systems and other smaller players are also on the hunt for those federal dollars.

Dell and Perot, for example, have teamed to offer integrated IT solutions that provide virtualized desktop, storage and server solutions for hospitals, health systems and physician practices.

Microsoft recently unveiled an updated version of its Connected Health Framework Architecture, and added solution accelerators to its Connected Health Platform (CHP) to help customers and partners -- such as Perot Systems and Philips Healthcare -- deliver interoperable next-generation e-health solutions.

"The Federal Government is aggressively pushing the healthcare sector to improve both its delivery and quality of healthcare as well as the sophistication of its IT technology," said Dr. Harry Greenspun, the chief medical officer for Perot Systems healthcare group, Round Rock, Texas.

He added that the over-arching goal for healthcare IT spending is to expand healthcare coverage to more Americans and facilitate the adoption of an EHR for every American by 2014. The government seeks to standardize EHRs by 2010.

Greenspun said all this activity is creating opportunities for VARs to create solutions that hospitals, clinics and physicians need.

"This spending plan creates significant growth opportunities for solution providers that understand the demands of working with government organizations and the broad range of technology solutions they require," said Mike AtLee, national director, Avnet Technology Solutions, Americas, GovPath.

Distributor Avnet Technology Solutions, which is part of Avnet Inc., provides VARs with tailored resources, through its GovPath and HealthPath programs, to help them capitalize on opportunities created by the stimulus package.

"The key to taking advantage of the economic stimulus package is to follow the money," said AtLee. "Solution providers should determine the type of opportunities they want to target and how funds will be used."

"ARRA certainly opens up opportunities for VARs to serve the IT and patient care needs of hospitals and other care-giver organizations," said Tony Ferrente, director, healthcare business development, Computer Design & Integration, Teterboro, New Jersey.

However, Ferrente cautioned that VARs need to know that the release of the Federal funds is dependent on state governments approving budgets for the funds, which will flow to care-giver organizations at the state rather than the Federal level.

TAGS: Microsoft,Dell,health care,government,healthcare

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