Recession? What recession?


By all accounts, the last couple of years have been rough ones for business, not to mention the millions of employees who have lost their jobs as a result of the global economic slowdown. Those of us in and around health IT may feel a little insulated, though, thanks in no small part to the federal stimulus, which of course is pumping a net $19.2 billion into electronic health records and related technology over the next eight years or so.

Only a tiny portion of that money is circulating right now, and the floodgates won't really open until the Medicare/Medicaid EHR incentive program starts in 2011, but the health IT industry already is feeling a positive effect, even if it's just psychological. The launch of FierceMobileHealthcare and related newsletter FierceEMR back in the spring is just one example of how the supposedly dying publishing industry is doing just fine in the health IT sector.

There may be an artificial feeling to this mini-boom, as, so far, it's being fueled by government priming the pump--with piles of borrowed money. That's not the case in mobile technology, though. There, growth has been largely organic. As millions of American youngsters head back to school, it's no longer a novelty for pre-teens to tote their own cell phones into the classroom. Look around and see how many of your adult colleagues, friends and neighbors have upgraded to smartphones in the past year or two.

Need proof? Registration for next month's annual conference of CTIA, the wireless phone industry group, is running 70 percent ahead of last year's pace. Remember back about six months ago when companies of all stripes were scared to sign off on business travel of any kind, much less to "resort" destinations like sunny San Diego, where this meeting will be? The airlines continue to run scared as they trim their flight schedules yet again, while some hotels are practically giving rooms away right now. Yet, there's huge buzz around mobile technology. And for the first time, CTIA will feature a healthcare track.

Welcome to health IT and mobile healthcare, the antidote to the recession. - Neil

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