Paul Allen, the federal budget bureaucrats in charge of health IT spending, and you walk into a bar. The Microsoft cofounder is building a jet with a 385-foot wingspan to take people into space. The government needs to build the IT infrastructure to support controlling costs for a population of patients who continue to suffer the effects of age, widespread unemployment and increasingly expensive care.
You are struggling to keep pace with bandwidth and storage requirements for your health care facility’s network on a shrinking budget. Your cell phone is blowing up with people saddling more IT projects on your skeleton crew to support mandates like HIPAA, Joint Commission Accreditation, meaningful use, Physician Quality Reporting System and, if you’re lucky, accountable care organization stuff.
The punch line? Sadly, there’s no punch line. This isn’t even a joke, even though it might sound like one at times.
Either way, behemoth IT consultancy Deltek issued the report Federal Health Information Technology Market, 2011-2016, which predicts the federal health IT spending budget will increase from $4.5 billion this year to $6.5 billion in 2016. That’s increasing 7.5% year over year for the next five. All other federal spending is projected to grow at just 1.1% during that span.
Where’s the money going? According to the authors:
• Mobility, telehealth, informatics, decision support, interoperability and common EHRs, as the health care system matches pace with technology and seeks tech-based solutions to control costs.
• EHRs: While the feds possess the most advanced EHRs in the world, they’re old and due for a major overhaul.
• Systems that will support the emerging CMS “pay for health” reimbursement model that will replace the current fee-for-service plan.
• Data security, program integrity, care coordination and the challenges they pose to federal and nationwide health IT adoption and implementation.
So while that might all seem depressing, there’s a silver lining: Health care CIOs are always looking for ways to convince their fellow c-suite members leading the finance department — a.k.a. the bean counters — to shake loose with a few more shekels to invest in new IT projects, some of them the CIOs know will return long term benefits.
This report provides a benchmark — a minimum — for which to aim, and statistical backup for justification (i.e. the Department of Defense and Veteran’s Administration also are expanding their EHR systems and hooking them into health information exchanges, because they too are beholden to the HITECH Act). And, like a holiday present giftwrapped specially for those 2012-and-beyond budget planning meetings, a bit of ammunition for expanding your own IT budgets.