Report: Health Care IT Market Looks Fit

By Stacy Lawrence  |  Posted 10-31-2005
With rapidly evolving health care information technology, mounting evidence of quality, safety and efficiency benefits, and a presidential political imperative, the market for health care IT in the United States is on track to grow by two-thirds by 2009. That's according to a newly released study by market research firm Kalorma Information.

Although largely untapped on the IT front, the health care market is the largest industry in the United States, with spending expected to reach $2.6 trillion, or more than 15 percent of the national gross domestic product by 2010.

The largest health IT spending segment is hospitals, which account for $15.4 billion of the current $23 billion total for health care IT, which also includes health care clinics and other institutions as well as doctors' offices.

There are more than 5,500 hospitals in the United States and Canada, and more than 10,000 in Europe.

The report estimates that 10 percent to 15 percent of hospitals in the United States already have some form of a simple clinical IT system, such as a CPOE record system.

Even if 15 percent to 20 percent of U.S. hospitals move toward adopting complete electronic data management systems in the next few years, a multibillion-dollar market opportunity for the IT industry would be created.

The cost for a hospital to put some sort of IT in place can range from $5 million to $30 million, depending on the size of the hospital and the implementation, which can include everything from the establishment of a digital network to bandwidth needs, to hardware configuration to the applications required.

Based on these projections, the market for hospital IT could grow to more than $25 billion in four years, while the overall health care IT market is expected to reach $38 billion.

"While IT has been successfully implemented and widely used on the administration side of hospitals for years, and has gained traction in the R&D side of medical science, adoption by actual clinical providers has been slow," notes Steven Heffner, publisher of Kalorama Information.

"However, the promise of improved patient care with fewer mistakes and greater efficiencies and cost savings is too big to ignore. In this environment, we should see the use of clinical information systems—particularly EMRs—really take off," Heffner said.