Tablets, LCD TVs, Core IT Products Lead Health Care Sector Purchases: CompTIA

A report by nonprofit IT trade association CompTIA finds that health care companies are purchasing core IT products and tablet PCs, along with LCD TVs.

Vertical markets such as health care are buying core IT products such as PCs, servers, printers, phone systems and networking gear along with tablet PCs and LCD TVs for their facilities, according to the September 2010 report "Second Annual Healthcare IT Insights and Opportunities" by IT trade association CompTIA.

CompTIA (Computing Technology Industry Association) is a nonprofit organization made up of IT manufacturers, distributors, resellers and educational institutions.

Although adoption of electronic medical records is a focus for the health care industry, the sector is still concentrating on core IT products as well.

"There's an opportunity to be had in selling core products into this marketplace in addition to the granular, vertical products like EMR [electronic medical record] and tablet PC-type implementations that many of the doctors' offices, hospitals and dentists' offices are getting into today," Carolyn April, CompTIA's director of industry analysis, told eWEEK.

In addition to core IT products, doctors' offices are purchasing plenty of LCD TVs, April noted. "Doctors are putting some of these in the waiting room to make the experience better for the patient, so there is a convergence in terms of the types of solutions the health care market is going to be seeking."

Previously, IT products and consumer devices were distinct markets, April explained. "Consumer electronics was retail. Now you see that as a completely converged market," she said, while noting that other industries in addition to health care are also experiencing this convergence.

With the focus on core IT products, the big trend in health care remains EMR adoption, according to the CompTIA report, with 34 percent of health care providers using a comprehensive EMR system. Meanwhile, 16 percent of health care providers reported using a partial EMR platform.

With EMR packages, smaller doctors' offices prefer to scale up gradually to various features rather than adopt a full package all at once, April said. "I think that eliminates a lot of the headache and frustration that some of the smaller health care facilities feel when they're trying to buy a package like this and comply with the regulation to go electronic," April explained. "They don't need to do it all at once."

By implementing EMR systems gradually, medical practices will be able to take the time to train employees properly, April said.

In addition, 8 in 10 doctors, or 56 percent, believed that their employees needed more training in EMRs.

A recent study by consulting firm Frost & Sullivan found that revenue for EMRs in doctors' offices will double in 2012, and then falling prices and market saturation would bring a drop in 2013.

Approximately 1 in 4 doctors and dentists plan to buy a tablet PC over the next year, according to the CompTIA report.

About half of health care businesses plan to increase IT spending over the next year, the report said, with most occurring in group practices. In addition, 1 in 3 medical practices expect to increase IT purchases by more than 5 percent over the next 12 months.

Meanwhile, almost half of medical practices lack a Web site, the study revealed. Although most businesses have a presence on the Web, 43 percent of health care providers lack a Web site for their practice, April said.

A big opportunity exists for Web site builders to target medical practices, she noted, while also pointing to the compliance issues and federal funds involved.

In addition, the survey found that of the 56 percent of IT vendors not currently working with health care customers, a little more than half were considering entering the market.

For its report, CompTIA interviewed 370 U.S. IT firms, with approximately 40 percent serving the health care industry. It also spoke with 300 U.S. health care businesses, including physicians, nurses, physician assistants and office managers.