Report: Clinical IT for hospitals is growth industry

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Spending on health care information technology will grow about 11 percent a year over the next five years, and sales of products and services will exceed $38 billion in the year 2009, a new market research report predicts.

The report on “The U.S. Market for Clinical Information Systems” focuses on hospital acquisition of clinical IT, which it says will account for more than $25 billion of the total in 2009. Kalorama Information, a division of MarketResearch.com, published the report.

The report pegs today’s annual sales at $23 billion altogether, with about $15.4 billion of that being spent on hospital systems.

The government can have a major influence in encouraging or discouraging investment in health IT, the report states. Despite the federal government spending more than $900 million on health IT in fiscal 2004, it describes government programs as too diffuse. A “true leadership role requires that federal efforts be brought together into a coherent program of support,” the report states.

The report also questions the often-touted links between the use of health IT and improvements in health care quality. “Further research is needed to better document and understand the link between IT and quality,” the report states.

Describing actual and potential federal programs to promote health IT use, the report says federal actions can also discourage implementation. One example is the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, which is a set of rules to be followed by health plans, doctors, hospitals and other healthcare providers.

"The HIPAA transaction rules require investments in IT supporting transactions, potentially at the expense of other investments,” the report states, adding, “The HIPAA privacy and security requirements may also increase the complexity of the design of IT systems that share patient information.”

Even if some hospitals don’t implement comprehensive medical records systems, according to the report, the increased interest in health IT represents a multibillion-dollar opportunity for the IT industry.

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