HIMSS Analytics: Infection, lab outreach IT tools poised for growth

IT tools that allow hospitals to reduce infection incidences, help with lab outreach services and improve patient acuity are among the top IT applications poised for growth, according to a new report by HIMSS Analytics.

All three areas, according to the report, "Essentials of the U.S. Hospital IT Market, Summer 2014 Edition," have a maturing market penetration, as well as an accelerated projected sales volume.

Infection surveillance, in particular, is one of the top applications where growth makes the most sense, Lorren Pettit, HIMSS Analytics vice president of market research, told FierceHealthIT in a phone interview.

Hospitals realize that both patient complications and readmissions can impact their bottom line, according to Pettit, meaning diligence is of high importance when it comes to looking for incidences of complications or infections.

This is especially important, as hospitals in many states will face penalties for not preventing hospital-acquired infections, FierceHealthFinance recently reported.

Lab outreach services, thanks to the buzz phrase "population growth," also are poised for growth, Pettit said.

He pointed to treatment and control of diabetes--where there are more and more efforts to allow for hospitals to capture applications from the lab that will enable them to check for things like blood sugar levels. If hospitals want to be aspirational, he said, they have to look at the short term gain, and diabetes is one area that will greatly impact health efforts.

Pettit also said that there is a saturated market for outcomes and quality measurements; with tools having to be constantly reinvented or updated, he said, hospitals must be on top of the measures.

HIMSS Analytics monitored more than 107 applications for the study, and took out a chunk of them to look at further, Pettit said. While applications tied to electronic medical record use were the ones seeing the most growth, the ones looked at for this report did not necessarily tie into EMRs.

Because of that, the findings weren't necessarily surprising, Pettit said. While they show growth, incentives to get EMRs in place supersede other applications.

Programs like Meaningful Use, he added, redirect the buying behaviors in the market. Once the program ends, he said, there likely will be explosive growth in other areas.

"The potential [of these applications] could be much greater if we weren't operating in an unnatural market," Pettit said. "It will be interesting to see what happens after MU, to see how the market recalibrates itself."

However, Meaningful Use is still under way, although it has been a rocky road for many. According to recent data from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, the number of hospitals attesting to Meaningful Use Stage 2 remains very low--only 10 of the 128 hospitals that have attested for the 2014 reporting year have attested to Stage 2.

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