The global market for the healthcare information technology industry is estimated to reach $228 billion by 2020, according to a new report from MarketsandMarkets. Expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 13.4 percent between 2015 and 2020, there are several factors at play in this market growth. Despite hesitation among some new users to adopt in-house IT, high return on investment rates, a need to curb growing health costs and the need to adhere to regulatory guidelines can all be attributed to the expected growth.
Becoming the standard
There was a time when information technology in the medical world was considered to be at the forefront of innovation but according to MarketShare, it will soon be the standard. Over the past 10 years, healthcare IT has transformed the landscape of the healthcare industry in a number of ways. It has optimized billing practices, enhanced the patient experience, optimized safety and made healthcare more accessible for all.
Personal care monitoring devices and wearables have even made an entire category of their own. Monitoring everything from sleeping patterns, daily steps and heat rate, these products may soon even be able to monitor more critical health problems.
Perhaps most notable is the way in which healthcare IT has improved the quality of patient care. An article from the Health Informatics and Health Information Management program at the University of Illinois at Chicago reported on the ways that technology has shaped and advanced in the industry. Making patient care more accessible, more reliable and more comprehensive was one of the most impressive impacts, as IT has even helped to empower patients. Medical histories crucial to a patient's care are now streamlined and centralized. From wearable devices that allow patients to track their own medications and symptoms, to the paper-less EHR systems that now provide the instantaneous sharing of real-time patient data, IT has truly changed the game. The level of care has only continued to improve as doctors can access lab results, records of vitals and critical information faster than ever.
Even as early as 2013, a growth in the healthcare IT industry was predicted for the North American region, which according to MarketsandMarkets is the largest segment of the global healthcare IT market. In 2014, the region accounted for the market's largest share at 45.5 percent.
In 2013, the Research and Markets' North American Healthcare IT Market Report 2013-2017 predicted the sector to be worth $31.3 billion by 2017, according to Healthcare IT News. However, the new expectation for 2020 far exceeds these earlier forecasts. The news release quoting authors of the report at the time indicate how far the market has come since:
"Healthcare information technology has emerged as a promising development to transform the paper-based healthcare system into a digitized one. HCIT also gives clinicians real-time access to patient data, and provides them with support to make the best possible decisions. It streamlines processes and reduces administrative overhead. The impact of IT on healthcare in the past decade has been modest, despite the huge potential."