EHR and Obamacare as Viewed by Investors

Benefiting From Medical Records Going Digital (credit David Sterman)

Part of Obamacare seeks to increase the accuracy and lower the cost of medical records by compelling hospitals, doctors, pharmacists and others to stop using pen and paper and start developing electronic medical records (EMRs). For investors, that meant rising expectations for companies that deal with EMRs — such as Cerner (CERN) and Allscripts (MDRX) — or other digital technologies such as imaging software, provided by firms like Merge Healthcare (MRGE).

In anticipation of these looming changes, medical professionals had already begun to aggressively move into the digital world. Yet the Supreme Court challenge to Obamacare had led to a major pause. Shares of Allscripts and Merge Healthcare have recently tanked in the face of slowing growth, and management at each firm warns that the sudden slowdown in sales may last a while.

The Road Ahead: The move to EMRs is likely inevitable now that the process is underway. Health care practitioners had been slow to adopt digital medical records, but they are moving in that direction now, even if recent quarterly results give the appearance of a pause. As a result, the steep share price drop for Allscripts and Merge may prove temporary.

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