Although largely untapped on the IT front, the health care market is the largest industry in the United States, with spending expected to reach $2.6 trillion, or more than 15 percent of the national gross domestic product by 2010.
The largest health IT spending segment is hospitals, which account for $15.4 billion of the current $23 billion total for health care IT, which also includes health care clinics and other institutions as well as doctors offices.
There are more than 5,500 hospitals in the United States and Canada, and more than 10,000 in Europe.
The report estimates that 10 percent to 15 percent of hospitals in the United States already have some form of a simple clinical IT system, such as a CPOE record system.
Even if 15 percent to 20 percent of U.S. hospitals move toward adopting complete electronic data management systems in the next few years, a multibillion-dollar market opportunity for the IT industry would be created.
The cost for a hospital to put some sort of IT in place can range from $5 million to $30 million, depending on the size of the hospital and the implementation, which can include everything from the establishment of a digital network to bandwidth needs, to hardware configuration to the applications required.
Based on these projections, the market for hospital IT could grow to more than $25 billion in four years, while the overall health care IT market is expected to reach $38 billion.