Healthcare Spending on Telecom, IT to Soar

New market analysis by Insight Research suggests that the U.S. healthcare industry—hospitals, physicians, pharmaceutical companies, and insurance providers—is on pace to spend $55 billion on telecommunications services over the next five years. Among the technologies to see the greatest interest are wireless network and Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) deployments and proactive care for remote patients via telemedicine applications.

According to Insight, spending by the U.S. healthcare industry on telecommunications services will grow at a compounded rate of 8.4 percent, increasing from $7.5 billion in 2008 to $11.3 billion in 2013.

The report, "Telecom, IT, and Healthcare: Wireless, Wireline and Digital Healthcare, 2008-2013," explains that forces external to the healthcare industry, including an aging population and worker shortages, are pushing the industry to cut costs through these technologies and other alternative approaches to current business practices.

Better practices are expected to rely heavily on telecommunications services. Most of the high costs inherent in the current system are related to the proximity of the patient and provider, as well as to archaic administrative systems used to manage records and exchange information. Telecommunications can bridge these proximity gaps as well as provide a normalized set of baseline data that can remain secure and yet be shared among healthcare workers, says Insight Research president Robert Rosenberg.

"Telecommunications and information technology providers have responded with more bandwidth, packet services, healthcare applications (video monitoring, electronic health records, and telemedicine), and wireless access to pull costs out of the current healthcare system," Rosenberg concluded in the report.

The report also notes that telecommunications service providers, such as AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint, and software providers, such as SAP, are now in a position to provide more integrated healthcare solutions—combining wireline and wireless networks and integrating IT platforms with healthcare applications. These providers have also expanded their healthcare solutions practice by partnering with healthcare application providers.

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