Spending on healthcare information technology is expanding by 9.3% this year--faster than any other segment of the technology industry--and the 9% annual growth should continue through 2006, a new study says.
According to Sheldon I. Dorenfest & Associates, a healthcare IT research firm in Chicago, the market for healthcare IT will total $23.6 billion in 2003, up from $21.6 billion a year ago. Dorenfest forecasts a similar 9.3% increase for 2004 and 8.9% in each of the two following years until spending reaches $30.5 billion in 2006.
The 2003 growth rate is the fastest Dorenfest has seen since 1999.
Dorenfest attributes the pickup in spending to a push among hospitals and integrated delivery systems to cut down on medical errors and streamline clinical workflow, led by heightened interest in digital imaging and computerized physician order entry.
"Patient safety issues are paramount in the minds of senior management teams who are turning to IT software solutions to help them reduce medical errors throughout their organizations," CEO Sheldon Dorenfest says in a written statement.
However, Dorenfest cautions that higher spending levels do not automatically produce the desired results, suggesting that poor implementation during the last healthcare IT spike in the late 1990s produced complicated and duplicative systems.
"With this additional clinical systems buying, there is a possibility that work processes will deteriorate further unless implementation approaches are improved," he says. "Significant emphasis must be placed on simplifying and improving workflow by reducing redundant, convoluted and tangled work processes during the implementation of these new systems."