Study: RHIOs grows slowly, rely on grants

OK, here's some statistics which, sadly, don't come as much of a surprise. According to new market research, the revenue generated by RHIOs is small compared with the other sectors of health IT industry. According to the Healthcare IT transition group, the RHIO market in the U.S. year was about $128.6 million, or seven-tenths of a percent of the U.S. health IT market. And it only grew 2.3 percent in 2006, suggesting at best an immature market--if not a stagnant one. What's more, a large percentage of RHIOs, including the ones with the most experience running live exchanges--still depend on grants to live.

Admittedly, the research's data pool was limited. To develop its conclusions, the researchers surveyed 168 RHIOs and HIEs, but ended up using only 38 RHIO responses. However, for what it's worth, half of the 38 RHIOs said they were at the start-up stage, with one-quarter each in transition or production. And grant revenue comprised 84 percent of revenue for start-ups in 2007, up from 73 percent in 2006.

What's holding these groups back?  Cash flow is perhaps the biggest challenge, but other key issues include legal constraints (largely due to privacy concerns flowing from HIPAA and state laws) and partner relations. No doubt competition between RHIO partners is playing a part, too.

To learn more about the study:
- read this Health Data Management piece

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