The Opportunity in the Soon-to-be Electronic Medical Records Pain Point

Chris Versace

Chris Versace is a financial columnist and equity analyst with more than 20 years of experience in the investment industry.

Joining me this week on PowerTalk is Lauren Fifield, senior health policy advisor at Practice Fusion. Practice Fusion is one of the fastest-growing electronic health record communities in the United States. Founded in 2005, the company has 150,000 physicians and practice users using Practice Fusion’s EHR across all 50 states. At Practice Fusion, Lauren manages government relationships and monitors an ever-changing landscape of legislation, regulation and health industry antics.

Many citizens and business owners are concerned about the increasing costs associated with the Affordable Care Act — better known as Obamacare. A study from the nonpartisan Society of Actuaries estimates that because of higher-risk pools, nationwide insurance costs will rise 32% on average within three years. Even Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius told reporters that, “Some people purchasing new insurance policies for themselves this fall could see premiums rise because of requirements in the health-care law.”

In talking with Lauren, it became clear that there is another shift in Obamacare worth noting. More specifically, the carrot that was a part of the High Tech Act passed in 2009 that incentivizes doctors to move to electronic medial records (EMR) becomes a stick at the end of 2014. And by stick, I mean that doctors will be seeing their Medicare and Medicaid payments penalized until such EMR systems are enacted.

Regulatory requirements and associated deadlines make for great catalysts when it comes to investing. I’ve seen this time and time again, be it with new truck engine emissions standards or other new mandates in heavy trucks and other equipment. The deadline tends not to be some line in the sand that gets redrawn several times a la the famous Bugs Bunny-Yosemite Sam cartoon. Instead, it’s a firm line that sparks strong demand ahead of that compliance deadline, and that is good news for a particular set of companies.

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