Report: Chinese health IT market is blooming

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The healthcare IT market in China has witnessed strong growth, boosted by initiatives unleashed by the Chinese government and regulatory authorities, according to a report from market research firm Frost & Sullivan.

Although the economic slowdown has forced Chinese companies to cut budgets, healthcare organizations are nevertheless planning to increase spending on health IT and services to optimize the quality of healthcare and to curb escalating healthcare costs, the company found.

These programs are accelerating growth in administrative health IT systems as China steps up to keep pace with other developed nations. China’s expanding elderly population and the growing incidence of chronic disease are likely to result in greater spending to expedite efficiency in the healthcare system, the research stated.

According to Frost & Sullivan, China is expected to follow in the footsteps of other advanced nations, aiming to achieve maximum outreach for healthcare delivery.

The high cost of health IT has been a major restraining factor for hospitals, the company reported. The initial investments are directly proportional to the size of hospitals, the number of beds or the number of uses of systems. This cost also involves a percentage of the initial expense as the annual expenditure toward maintenance and support. Moreover, past investments have more or less resulted in poor results, and have shown very slow realization of return on investments. These critical factors are causing hospitals in China to hesitate when it comes to investment in IT.

"Lack of industry standards in countries such as China is a major hindrance to uptake of healthcare IT solutions," the research stated. "It is very important to have these standards in place to allow information to flow easily in the healthcare environment."

In China, the focus is more on replacing legacy systems. Clinical IT systems and EHRs are the lucrative areas that promise high growth, the research noted. Interoperability products and mobile services are poised to gain traction as hospitals are grappling with integration issues. Participants must strive to increase the usability of health IT tools to ensure better acceptance from major users, physicians, nurses and other healthcare professionals, according to the firm.

“Vendors must employ end-user-centric sales strategies involving education sessions, pilot programs and need-based assessment sessions,” the research concluded. “The market is rife with opportunities as hospitals are striving to deliver safe, high-quality and cost-effective care to stay competitive.”