Indian technology companies are vying for a part of the expected spike in U.S. health IT spending, but concerns about sending medical information overseas could thwart their efforts, the Wall Street Journal reports.
Forrester Research estimates that the U.S. health information market will reach nearly $50 billion in the next two years. The increase in health IT spending largely is being driven by the federal government's "meaningful use" incentive program. Under the federal stimulus package, health care providers who demonstrate meaningful use of electronic health records can qualify for Medicare and Medicaid incentive payments.
Although many Indian companies have successfully performed software work for pharmaceutical and insurance companies, they have faced challenges securing business from U.S. hospitals, which will oversee the bulk of the new health IT spending, the Journal reports.
Many Indian technology firms -- including Infosys Technologies, Wipro and Tata Consultancy Services -- are preparing for the increase in U.S. health IT spending, but some health care providers are concerned about sending patient information abroad.
George Conklin -- CIO of Christus Health, an operator of more than 40 hospitals in six states -- said, "As soon as it leaves the confines of the U.S., it's not subject to the same rigorous laws as we are."
However, Indian outsourcing firms argue that they meet the same information security standards as U.S. companies.
Meanwhile, Darren Dworkin -- CIO of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles -- said that designing and implementing health IT systems "is hard to do off site, let alone offshore." He added that 80% to 90% of the health IT work necessary cannot be easily outsourced because it requires extensive knowledge of a hospital's terminology and work processes (Sharma/Worthen, Wall Street Journal, 11/1).