HFMA: 'Digital radiology' tops CFO shopping list

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Some 72 percent of hospital and health system CFOs surveyed said they plan to purchase digital radiology systems, while 61 percent (of the 460 surveyed) expect to buy information technology (IT) systems over the next five years -- signaling the beginning of increased buying by healthcare providers.

The survey was conducted by Health Financial Management Associates and published in the March 3 edition of The Wall Street Journal. "The Future of Capital Spending" survey is based on research by HFMA and Pricewaterhouse Cooper and partially funded by GE Healthcare Financial Services. It will be formally released next week.

The survey predicts capital spending by hospitals will increase 14 percent annually over the five-year span, representing a major hike compared with capital spending of 1 percent annually from 1997 through 2001.

Also high on the priority list is the purchase of computerized physician order entry (CPOE) systems with 64 percent of the facilities having that technology in their buying plans. Fifty-one percent plan to increase emergency room capacity, while 50 percent plan to expand operating room capacity. Some 35 percent of the CFOs are eyeing a boost in bed capacity in their facility in the next five years, while 23 percent will build new hospitals.

The survey found that healthcare providers in states with increasing elderly populations - such as Florida, California and Colorado - are expanding their facilities to anticipate the need for more services in the near future.