'War game' highlights roadblocks, forecasts changes in EMR industry

It's not hard to imagine any of these scenarios: Continued resistance to change--and the fear among hospitals of losing business--slows down EMR adoption. Likewise, a health IT workforce shortage means the conversion to EMRs will take longer than hoped. Vendor consolidation continues, with diversified companies taking over some of the pure-play EMR vendors. Medical practices also consolidate to achieve economies of scale and enhance the effectiveness of EMR investments. Health plans are pushed to untether medical records as interoperability becomes the norm.

These were some of the results of a "war game" simulation conducted a few months ago in a student competition among some of America's top business schools, including Columbia, Kellogg, MIT and Wharton. "It was intriguing to see how quickly the war game participants realized that most of the health IT industry isn't configured correctly to support the strategic intent of the stimulus funding and scrambled to try to address that weakness," write health IT consultants Leonard M. Fuld and Kim Slocum. Fuld's firm conducted the simulation.

They say that the exercise highlighted some of the shortfalls of the stimulus legislation by bringing in outsiders--business students--to cast a critical eye on the health IT industry and provide some fresh viewpoints. "Perhaps business minds not so steeped in the health IT industry can expose truths to those who have been part of the health IT movement for years," Fuld and Slocum say.

For more on the EMR "war game":
- read Fuld's and Slocum's iHealthBeat commentary