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Some Projections For 2017 Hospital IT Spending

Posted on January 4, 2017 I Written By

Anne Zieger is veteran healthcare editor and analyst with 25 years of industry experience. Zieger formerly served as editor-in-chief of FierceHealthcare.com and her commentaries have appeared in dozens of international business publications, including Forbes, Business Week and Information Week. She has also contributed content to hundreds of healthcare and health IT organizations, including several Fortune 500 companies. She can be reached at @ziegerhealth or www.ziegerhealthcare.com.

A couple of months ago, HIMSS released some statistics from its survey on US hospitals’ plans for IT investment over the next 12 months. The results contain a couple of data points that I found particularly interesting:

  • While I had expected the most common type of planned spending to be focused on population health or related solutions, HIMSS found that pharmacy was the most active category. In fact, 51% of hospitals were planning to invest in one pharmacy technology, largely to improve tracking of medication dispensing in additional patient care environments. Researchers also found that 6% of hospitals were planning to add carousels or packagers in their pharmacies.
  • Eight percent hospitals said that they plan to invest in EMR components, which I hadn’t anticipated (though it makes sense in retrospect). HIMSS reported that 14% of hospitals at Stage 1-4 of its Electronic Medical Record Adoption Model are investing in pharmacy tech for closed loop med administration, and 17% in auto ID tech. Four percent of Stage 6 hospitals plan to support or expand information exchange capabilities. Meanwhile, 60% of Stage 7 hospitals are investing in hardware infrastructure “for the post-EMR world.”

Other data from the HIMSS report included news of new analytics and telecom plans:

  • Researchers say that recent mergers and acquisitions are triggering new investments around telephony. They found that 12% of hospitals with inpatient revenues between $25 million and $125 million – and 6% of hospitals with more than $500 million in inpatient revenues — are investing in VOIP and telemedicine. FWIW, I’m not sure how mergers and acquisitions would trigger telemedicine rollouts, as they’re already well underway at many hospitals — maybe these deals foster new thinking and innovation?
  • As readers know, hospitals are increasingly spending on analytics solutions to improve care and make use of big data. However (and this surprised me) only 8% of hospitals reported plans to buy at least one analytics technology. My guess is that this number is small because a) hospitals may not have collected their big data assets in easily-analyzed form yet and b) that they’re still hoping to make better use of their legacy analytics tools.

Looking at these stats as a whole, I get the sense that the hospitals surveyed are expecting to play catch-up and shore up their infrastructure next year, rather than sink big dollars into future-looking solutions.

Without a doubt, hospital leaders are likely to invest in game-changing technologies soon such as cutting-edge patient engagement and population health platforms to prepare for the shift to value-based health. It’s inevitable.

But in the meantime it probably makes sense for them to focus on internal cost drivers like pharmacy departments, whose average annual inpatient drug spending shot up by more than 23% between 2013 and 2015. Without stanching that kind of bleeding, hospitals are unlikely to get as much value as they’d like from big-idea investments in the future.

eFax in Hospitals

Posted on January 23, 2014 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

Over the years, I’ve had the chance to interact with basically all of the major eFax services out there. I’ve even had a number of them as advertisers. This largely makes sense since healthcare it still the haven for fax. I won’t go into all the reasons why fax is still so popular in healthcare, but it’s still the most trusted form of interoperability in healthcare. As an eFax vendor pointed out to me, fax is great because it produces an unalterable document. Sure, it’s not impossible to alter, but it’s pretty difficult.

I am hopeful that fax will one day be replaced by true interoperability in healthcare. Although, I’m more hopeful that Direct Project will get us there even sooner. Fore those not familiar with Direct Project, it’s like fax, but with meta data attached to it and securely sent over the internet. Both true interoperability of data and Direct Project still have a long ways to go though. So, don’t hold your breathe on those taking out fax….yet.

A trend I have seen happening is organization replacing their current fax solution with some sort of eFax option. In many cases this shift has been driven by issues with fax when you’re in a VoIP environment. Yes, I know that many of the VoIP environments can support fax, but it takes work. In fact, it takes just as much work getting it to function as it is to just implement some sort of eFax solution.

The other real benefit I’ve seen many consider when looking at eFax is the cost structure of eFax. Instead of having to invest in faxing hardware all up front, many organizations like that the eFax can be bought on a pay as you go or usage based plan. If indeed faxing is starting to go away in favor of some other electronic transfer of data, then your organization can save money on faxing as your fax load is reduced.

There are a few trends I’ve seen with eFax in healthcare. What trends have you been seeing in your organization?