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Broadband Wireless Hardware Sales Could Be Side Effect of Stimulus Bill's EMR Incentives

8/7/09 - As the Obama Administration provides incentives to push doctors and hospitals to upgrade their healthcare IT solutions, there will be a greater need to replace antiquated computer hardware with newer, more powerful systems that can support the vast amounts of information created by EMR, wireless, RFID, electronic physician order entry (CPOE) and other advanced software that is rapidly being adopted.

According to "Healthcare Computer System Markets and Trends in HIT Buying," a new report from leading life science market research company Kalorama Information, approximately 56% of healthcare organizations in the US have increased their IT department budget for 2009 despite the recession.

While discussions have mainly focused on HIT software applications, Kalorama also sees an opportunity in healthcare for hardware providers.

According to the report, hardware sales represent about 23% of healthcare computer system sales, or $1.11 billion. This figure does not include software or services, which are also anticipated to grow. With increased investment in healthcare IT, Kalorama expects spending on this sector to grow at a faster pace than IT spending as a whole in the near term, or about 10.7% annually through 2013. These sales are usually made by healthcare computer companies such as McKesson or Eclipsys who buy from hardware manufacturers and package systems to meet the needs of healthcare entities.

"The EMR incentives in ARRA are aimed at software, but they will open up conversations between customers and vendors for new IT spending, and hardware will be part of that," says Melissa Elder, an analyst with Kalorama Information and author of the report. "The top IT-related technologies and applications that physicians and facilities are focusing on include identity management, bar coding technology, speech recognition, and handheld personal digital assistants (PDA). All of these will require investment in new hardware."

A wide range of hardware is available for hospitals, health clinics, pharmacies, and other health facilities, including workstations, servers, PDAs, tablet PCs, carts on wheels, and networking hardware. Given the demands of the hospital environment, healthcare IT hardware must be tailored to withstand a rigorous and sanitary environment. Some portable devices are also being built to withstand a drop of up to three feet. In May 2009, Tangent announced the launch of the new MCA Medix 10T touch screen tablet PC. It runs Windows, has a water and dust resistant exterior for disinfection and runs without a fan.

Kalorama Information's new report, "Healthcare Computer System Markets and Trends in HIT Buying," includes statistics influencing the industry, demographics, life expectancy, company strategies and a competitive analysis of leading healthcare IT system providers. A market summary includes a total market analysis, forecasts and a breakdown of revenues by systems (hardware and software), support and extra services.

By Robert Hoskins

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