Healthcare IT looms large for 2009

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The coming year promises to be challenging for healthcare IT. On the positive side, the U.S. government appears to firmly back IT deployment as a means to deliver efficient and effective patient care. On the negative side of the ledger, much work remains before this vision can become reality.

Standards and protocols for the seamless and transparent sharing of healthcare data across institutional boundaries are still in the development phase, although some progress has been made. Most troubling are ongoing issues with the safeguarding of patient data in existing systems.

Barely a week went by this past year without a report of a compromise of patient data from a variety of healthcare facilities. Government, private and academic institutions all saw system breaches, both large and small.

On a bright note, the proposed administration of President-elect Barack Obama seems poised to invigorate the healthcare IT sector as part of an economic stimulus package for 2009. According to reports from Capitol Hill, a strategy being discussed is to create incentives for healthcare IT adoption as well as strengthening security and privacy considerations.

Also heartening were reports that healthcare IT spending will show a slight uptick, or at least remain flat, in the coming year. Given that many financial analysts are predicting an overall downturn in capital spending across the healthcare segment of the economy in 2009, level sales are a positive note in otherwise gloomy forecasts.

In other news, be sure to stop by our ongoing RSNA 360 feature. You’ll find staff reviews of some of the significant vendors and their products that were on display in McCormick Place and Lakeside Center at this year’s conference.

If you’re looking to bolster the healthcare IT capabilities of your practice, check out our Healthcare Tech Guide. We have listings for vendors, systems, services and white papers for a variety of products spanning the healthcare environment.

Lastly, if you have a comment or report to share about the development or deployment of healthcare IT solutions in your practice, please contact me at the address below. I look forward to hearing from you.

Jonathan Batchelor, Web Editor