I'd bet you had a strong opinion about it, no matter your political leanings, no matter your tax bracket.
Put simply, it has been one of the most controversial pieces of lawmaking in a generation. And no matter what you think about it, there's no arguing the new laws are groundbreaking.
That's exactly the sort of opportunity I'm always looking for.
Truth be told, it's my suspicion that this legislation -- referred to by many as "ObamaCare" -- will be unraveled by the courts in coming years. That's OK. I think one piece of President Obama's legacy in health care is untouchable -- his push for electronic medical records ( EMR ).
First funded through the massive $800 billion stimulus bill passed soon after Obama took office, the idea behind EMR is that huge cost-savings can be extracted by providing physicians with total access to patient records, allowing them to avoid duplicate medical tests, watch for drug interactions, avoid errors and increase levels of efficiency in the doctor's office, specialty clinic and hospital.
We've all seen how this plays out -- doctors and staff are constantly asking for the same information and spend millions of man-hours a year collecting data that, if centralized, would not need to be re-collected, allowing doctors to concentrate on treating illness.
A patient might not know if a test had been performed or what medicines he is taking, but if it were to be included in a universally accessible patient file, every doctor or health care provider the patient visits would have a complete picture of the patient's care.
The cost savings are significant -- hundreds of billions of dollars a year. Reducing this waste would go a long way to slowing the growth of health care costs. So President Obama, using the Medicare program, has instituted a national system of standards and set a deadline for compliance.
A recent study showed the costs of adding this software and implementing it will equate to around $100,000 per licensed hospital bed. The American Hospital Association reports that there are 945,000 beds, which puts a sticker price on the EMR initiative of $94.5 billion. The feds have already kicked in about a third of that in Medicare incentives.
And yet the doctor's office, for the most part, remains trapped in the 19th century. It's a jumble of paper records and inefficient filing systems -- but the clock is ticking. The federal rules say that by 2015, all health care providers must comply. Those that do, receive federal funding. Those that do not will face stiff penalties from the Medicare program.
That's a huge stick -- the Medicare program buys about half the patient care in the United States, and seeing a reduction in those reimbursement rates because of non-compliance would put a lot of hospitals -- which already operate a very narrowprofit margin -- into the red.
Action to Take--> Health care providers simply have to buy digital medical systems -- it's a question of when, not if. That's going to mean nearly guaranteed profits for the handful of players in the field.
As an investor always looking for the next big idea, the health care industry -- and electronic medical records ( EMR ) -- is one of my favorite hunting grounds. In fact, all my EMR picks in my Fast-Track Millionaire portfolio are showing strong gains, including one up 32% and another gaining 47% .
P.S. -- To learn more about my Fast-Track Millionaire way of investing... and learn more about the boatload of revolutionary ideas and investments I'm always searching for... follow this link.
Disclosure: Neither Andy Obermueller nor StreetAuthority, LLC hold positions in any securities mentioned in this article.
The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.
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