Without rain, there would be no life.

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Justine Cadet,
News Editor

With the passing of Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist John Updike, we are left only with his writings; and his words may provide solace in these bleak economic conditions as this time may also blossom into prosperity. However, this week’s news indicates that the storm clouds have not yet lifted, as reports and a slew of struggling financial statements indicate that the healthcare community is sharing in the burden of the recession.

An American Hospital Association survey of 639 hospitals revealed that many hospitals are stopping or postponing projects that could improve community healthcare and increase jobs, including facility and healthcare IT upgrades. One troubling finding even showed that nearly half of hospitals surveyed have postponed projects that were to begin within the next six months and many have stopped projects that were already in progress.

These findings are even more disturbing in light of the findings in a recent Archives of Internal Medicine study of 41 hospitals across Texas, which found that if hospitals adopt healthcare IT solutions, those facilities could save 15 percent more lives and lower costs up to $540 per admission.

If the economic stimulus package, which passed in the House late Wednesday evening, gets issued through the Senate with the same ease, it could potentially allot $22 billion dollars for providers to adopt these much-needed healthcare IT solutions.

In the interim, cardiovascular vendors are feeling the pinch of a fraught U.S. medical device market. Imaging leviathan GE Healthcare, stent and cardiac rhythm device maker Boston Scientific and remote-monitoring/imaging giant Philips Healthcare all posted losses for the fourth fiscal quarter of 2008, and year-end results.

Even Big Pharma, such as Pfizer, whose recent $68 billion acquisition of Wyeth lends to notions of success, posted a 90 percent drop in income for the fourth quarter of 2008—with a significant drop in U.S. Lipitor sales.

Despite the economic turmoil, Updike also informed us that “Americans have been conditioned to respect newness, whatever it costs them,” so these vendors could potentially woo U.S. investors and hospital administrators with innovative pipelines, which may produce the “life” after this rain.

On these topics, or any others, please feel free to contact me.

Justine Cadet, News Editor