Healthcare IT Sector Experiences Explosive Year

February 5, 2013

The high-tech sector experienced a tremendously successful 2012 campaign, including IT jobs growth and the largest pay raise for tech professionals in a decade. In particular, healthcare IT (HIT) achieved significant growth over the past 12 months, with investments doubling and deal counts tripling, according to a recent Mercom Capital Group study. 

“While the focus of funding has been in the health information management [HIM] category, which covers technologies on the healthcare practice side, there is significant investment and funding going into companies that engage the consumers – like mobile health, telehealth, personal health and social health,” said Raj Prabhu, managing partner of Mercom Capital Group.

The Affordable Healthcare Act, which will go into full effect in 2013, is expected to drive even more sector growth. According to a Bloomberg report, the HIT sector could see a 22 percent growth in IT jobs from 2010 to 2020, leading to more than 750,000 new computer and tech-related positions. 

“The second these exchanges go up, they are going to need to hire,” Les Funtleyder, president of Poliwogg, told the news source. “This could create a ton of jobs.”

In addition, the “healthcare and social assistance” sector alone could account for nearly 30 percent of all new Americans jobs created during that time frame. 

Future changes expected
HIT technology changes will also likely be drastic, according to a recent Level 3 Communications study. More than three-quarters of healthcare CIOs and IT executives anticipate upgrading their networks within the next two years, and 80 percent of respondents believe that electronic health record systems will enhance patient care. 

At the same time, HIT has been slower to implement new technologies, such as cloud computing and mobile solutions, than most other industries. Currently, fewer than a quarter of these organizations are using cloud-based programs, while just 17 percent of respondents believe enterprise mobility will have a significant impact. 

Security concerns have likely played a role in this reluctance, according to the study. Although four out of five healthcare firms weren’t affected by data breaches in the past year, 56 percent of respondents said they were only somewhat confident in their risk prevention measures. 

“Patient privacy and the security of health records are weighing on the minds of healthcare CIOs,” said Karl Strohmeyer, group vice president of Level 3. 

The study suggested that these organizations will likely have to gain confidence in cloud and mobile security technology before going completely digital.