The debate about U.S. healthcare reform has been one of the biggest political issues of 2009, and the health IT sector's role is no exception.
Technology will play a big part in delivering Obama's ambitious healthcare strategy. More than $20 billion will be spent on electronic medical records over the coming years, and the president has vowed to drag U.S. healthcare systems into the 21st century.
Highlighting the revenue opportunities available in health IT, next month's CES show in Las Vegas will feature a 'Digital Health Summit,' showcasing consumer-based devices, applications and services.
Although it will take years to overhaul U.S. healthcare systems, some of tech's biggest names are already vying for a seat at the top table. IBM CEO Sam Palmisano, for example, appeared at a White House press conference with Obama earlier this year, where he described the health I.T. agenda as "essential."In addition to IBM, with its vast services business, a slew of other companies are also eyeing Obamacare dollars. GE (GE) CEO Jeff Imelt recently announced a $250 million fund to invest in healthcare technology companies. GE is a major player in health IT and recently signed a pact with Intel (INTC) to build home health care devices. This could be a shrewd move. With health care firms attempting to reduce expensive hospital stays, analyst firm DataMonitor estimates that the home health monitoring market will grow from $3 billion this year to $7.7 billion by 2012. Other companies that could play a key role in Obamacare include Cerner (CERN), McKesson (MCK - Get Report) and newly-public Emdeon (EM). Even software giant Microsoft is ramping up its efforts in this space, recently buying healthcare software specialist Sentillion for an undisclosed fee.