A look at the leading health information technologies hospitals told HIMSS Analytics they plan to buy in the next 12 months. 
Seven years since the HITECH Act's meaningful use incentives turbocharged hospitals' information technology purchasing plans, providers are still investing big money in their IT infrastructure. Having moved well beyond basic electronic health record systems, they're now looking for efficiencies in communication, data storage and security, analytics, asset tracking, bed management and more.
We consulted with HIMSS Analytics to spotlight technologies that have the greatest predicted buying activity for U.S. hospitals in the coming year.
"These are the technologies that are showing the most potential for growth for 2017," said Matt Schuchardt, director of market intelligence solutions sales at HIMSS Analytics.
While the market has cooled off a bit since earlier in the decade, and "there are going to be fewer buyers than there were around HITECH, 300 or so hospitals is still more than 5 percent of the market, and represents a significant number of buyers in the space for a single year."
Here, then, are the technologies most on the radar for 5,461 hospitals across the U.S. in 2017. (Number of predicted installs in parentheses.)
Transfusion Management System (375) and Specimen Collection Management System (398)
"These are really for advanced laboratory systems – managing how things are transfused, whether blood or even breast milk, and then labeling these things from a specimen management perspective: Making sure that thing are being barcoded when the phlebotomist takes it, and those barcodes are being tracked throughout the hospital, making sure you're testing the right specimens and running the right tests," said Schuchardt.
While other innovations such as laboratory outreach services – making sure people are actually getting their lab tests – and genomics are also seeing growth (more below), "overall adoption of that is significantly lower than things that make your regular lab system more efficient, like managing transfusions and managing specimen collection better," he said.
Infection Surveillance System (405)
"This is about what it sounds," said Schuchardt. "Working on reducing hospital-acquired infections, managing and monitoring that better. It's part of the CMS (quality) scores and they're doing a better job monitoring that, making sure the taxpayers aren't paying for HAIs. Monitoring that will continue to be important on an ongoing basis, as there are more and more people hired for that role."
Anesthesia Information Management System (237)
"If you think about where risk is, hospitals really focus around surgery," said Schuchardt. "Making sure they're monitoring anesthesia is really important: It's the most dangerous part of any hospital stay, other than staph infections. Hospitals are looking at that, and you can see the current adoption rate is under 2,000, but we expect that to grow pretty substantially."
Medical Necessity Checking Content (424)
"We think there's still a lot of growth there. It's really about making sure the hospital is going to get paid for the procedure prior to doing it. I expect growth there to continue. It still surprises me that a lot of hospitals do these procedures with the hope of getting paid as a strategy."
Laboratory - Outreach Services (298)
"This is making sure people are getting the tests that they need," said Schuchardt. "You see the see the TV ads for biologics all the time that may cause liver damage: Are these people coming back in and having their levels checked on their liver while they're taking them? This technology manages the process – making sure people are being notified of the results, notified for follow-up work, and things like that."
Laboratory - Molecular Diagnostics (113)
This is HIMSS Analytics' term for precision medicine. "We see some growth there," said Schuchardt. Specifically, he sees more health systems moving to a "hub-and-spoke model" for genomics capabilities, with larger medical centers with the technology and the personnel serving smaller hospitals. "There are large health systems that are adopting precision medicine, and there are specific ones, like oncology, where almost every cancer hospital has it in place," he said. "But I suspect we will see precision medicine installed at hub hospitals, so the actual blood work and tests may be done at the academic medical center that's the center of the healthcare system you go to – but probably never will be done at your local hospital."
Radiology 3D Image/Display (348)
"As imaging capabilities increase, being able to see those images gets more and more complicated," said Schuchardt. These days, after all, a three-dimensional mammogram is can be as large as a terabyte or more. "As these images get more discrete, the volume and size of those images grows pretty rapidly," he said. "Being able to manipulate a giant 3D model like that requires special monitors, special software to make sense of it."
Cardiology 3D Image/Display (178)
Similar to the radiology display but focused on cardiology, this are "will have less adoption, always, than radiology, as there are a number of hospitals that just don't offer cardiology services," he said. "But there's a similar growth curve with a cap on it, in that not everyone is going to be offering cardiology."
Nurse Communication System (420)
"Nurses are, for most hospitals, the majority of employees," said Schuchardt. Making sure they're in the right places and doing the right things and taking care of patients at the right moment is going to continue to be important as nurses will continue to be the primary caregivers in the hospital."
Physician Assessment Software Tool (140)
"This one is really interesting," said Schuchardt. "It's about monitoring the effectiveness of your docs. One of the things they track now is hospital-acquired infections, suture-site infections, bloodline infections and things like that. Monitoring whether particular doctors have higher instances of that or not, making sure you're watching those sorts of things, leads to some better outcomes. I know there's probably some resistance from physicians in terms of being watched, but what gets measured gets done, and measuring the outcomes for individual physicians, preliminary analysis shows, has a very positive effect on reducing hospital-acquires infections. There are still fewer than 2,000 hospitals using this kind of technology."
Asset Tracking/Management (342)
"This is really an IT function: Tracking the certificates on your Windows machines, is everything up-to-date, are all your updates in place, are you tracking the depreciation of your servers and things like that? Certainly, as you get more tablets and things like that, tracking where they are and that they're secure is going to be important."
Bed Management (296)
Business intelligence toosl focused on bed usage are increasingly important, said Schuchardt. "The value of beds, the types of patients who are in those beds, are you getting the most of them, what's your census rate like, what's your average number of patients to a bed. We suspect that, like all other BI and analytics tools, we'll continue to see growth." (+)

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