Growing Federal Health IT Spending Could Boost Jobs

Though the federal government has been shedding jobs right and left amid budget constraints, the belt tightening won’t extend to health IT spending, according to a GovWin research report from vendor Deltek.

It predicts federal spending on health IT will grow to $6.5 billion in 2016 from $4.5 billion in 2011 because of rising health care costs, an aging population, and continued high unemployment. In a press release, Deltek senior principal analyst Lauren Jones says federal agencies are being forced to spend money on IT in order to save money long term.

The report says much of the focus will be in departments such as Veterans Affairs, Defense, and Health and Human Services on projects including electronic health record (EHR) systems, IT infrastructure modernization, transformation of payment systems and IT to support advancements in population health.

It speaks of demand for mobility, telehealth, informatics, decision support, interoperability and common EHRs. Informatics, in particular, has been an area in which the government has been trying to boost the talent pool quickly by funding short-term training programs at universities and community colleges.

Compiling and analyzing health data will be big areas of emphasis in the next year, according to a post by Dr. Robert Rowley at Practice Fusion. He foresees Big Data analysis - using massive stores of anonymous patient information – helping to bring new understanding about disease.  Finding the personnel to perform that analysis will be the key. The data also would have to meet the HIPAA privacy requirements. His article doesn’t sound as creepy as the way Susan Penfield, senior vice president at Booz Allen Hamilton, put it in an ExecutiveBiz article:

… the next evolution is in analytics and aggregation of data. We need data from all aspects of the patient’s life.

That article points out that federal spending on health care IT also is creating work for government contractors, including Microsoft, Accenture, and AT&T.

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