Red Hat sees Healthcare Green

12 Apr Red Hat sees Healthcare Green

Green (grēn) n.

  1. The hue of that portion of the visible spectrum lying between yellow and blue, evoked in the human observer by radiant energy with wavelengths of approximately 490 to 570 nanometers;
  2. Green growth or foliage, including branches, leafy plants, or a grassy area.
  3. Slang for money.

I been around healthcare all my professional life and have been immersed in the healthcare information technology (HIT) industry the last six years. Even during this short time, I have been able to see incredible changes, technical advances, and cultural shifts. It has been impressive, and I am encouraged by the growing momentum of the reform movement and look forward to a lot more as we collective apply ourselves to the problems at hand.

One of the more satisfying parts of this experience has been to be a part of the creation of an entirely new category – Open Source Healthcare Information Technology. As with any movement, it deserves an acronym, and the one made by this new HIT category is quite apropos. We used to joke that this would be the agonizing cry of the incumbents as we – the revolutionaries – sallied forth, invaded, and ultimately conquered by delivering superior value to customers.

My friends at Red Hat know a little about this concept. Having gone from an aggregator to innovator, startup to market maker, to ultimately having a realistic shot at being the “defining technology company of the 21st century”, they have lived through the experience the dismissal, dismay, and ultimate disbelief from competitors as they have continually nibbled away at market share. They are the undisputed, world leading open source technology company and have shown that their model of collaboration, based on the GPL, has put them in position to be the first $1B open source company.

Therefore, it is with great anticipation and excitement that I now see Red Hat entering the Healthcare industry. I like to think I had a small hand in this inevitable market move. I had the privilege to meet with Matthew Szulik last fall regarding Red Hat’s interest in healthcare. We reviewed the many corollaries between open source and healthcare, and (because of the unique synergies of these two industries) how Red Hat could leverage past experiences to immediately take a leadership position within the industry. The meeting was formative, but the conversation was engaging, the optimism contagious, and the potential self-evident.

I believe Red Hat is interested in Healthcare, bottom line (no pun intended), because they see green:

  • Green as in Growth. Like any technology company worth its salt, Red Hat is constantly looking for growth opportunities. Having successfully created verticals in the financial and telco services industries, healthcare is a natural area for Red Hat to look for revenues. It just so happens that Healthcare happens to be the largest, most information intense, and least automated service delivery industry in our country. There are significant and game changing opportunities within healthcare to get involved with everything from policy decisions, to standards creation, to system integration, to solution deployment, to service delivery. It will be exciting to watch as Red Hat parlays their expertise and experience from other industries to create a healthcare growth engine within the company.
  • Green as in Growing. As previously mentioned, healthcare is currently the largest industry in the US. Healthcare spending is just about to top $2 trillion dollars – and it is expected to hit $3 trillion in the not too distant future. Given that only 15% of hospital (25% of physician offices) even have an electronic health records (let alone a decent technology infrastructure), there is a lot of opportunity for future growth. In addition, the pace of medical science and scientific discovery is increasing, which bring additional and synergistic rounds of information technology innovation. Coupled with the aging population, new information needs with proposed healthcare reform, and the pre-eminence of healthcare within the socio-political environment of our country, the prognosis for continued growth is strong.
  • Green as in Going. The wide open field of healthcare won’t stay that way forever. The folks from Redmon has already announced their intentions for the healthcare industry. The folks from Raleigh answered by throwing in the proverbial Red Hat with the McKesson at the recent HIMSS show. I don’t see this as a “me-too” either, but rather a foreshadowing of a major initiative from the “defining technology company of the 21st century” in the defining industry of the 21st century.

I believe Red Hat is poised to ride the next big industry (healthcare) wave of technology adoption. Given the new paradigm of healthcare transparency and value which aligns so well with Open Source, I believe Red Hat comp
etitors will be green with envy.

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