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Electronics Production | February 20, 2007

Integration and simplicity in customer<br>contact drives healthcare IT business

Increasing integration in the European healthcare industry is creating the need for a single point of contact for healthcare IT (HIT) systems, which in turn, is driving the market for HIT platforms.
Across Europe, healthcare providers are in search of a single, unified platform for clinical and administrative solutions and healthcare IT vendors with comprehensive product portfolios are attempting to address these needs though individual as well as group solutions.

Frost & Sullivan finds that the European Markets for Healthcare IT Platforms earned revenues of $276.5 million in 2006, and estimates this to reach $526.0 million in 2013.

“Shifting to an integrated platform streamlines workflows, helps reduce costs, improves regulatory compliance, and enhances efficiency, patient and user satisfaction," notes Frost & Sullivan Research Analyst Kiran John. “In addition, it provides ready access to vital information from various access points across the hospital sourced from a managed database."

HIT platforms offer a single, interoperable base on which administrative solutions such as patient administrative systems (PAS) and more advanced clinical solutions such as laboratory information systems (LIMS), accident and emergency care, decision support and radiology information systems (RIS) can function smoothly.

Thus, these platforms not only eliminate the problem of interoperability, but also offer greatly enhanced functionality that can be added as and when the requirement arises. This is perhaps one of the most significant advantages of HIT platforms, as it enables hospitals to realise significant cost savings and improve the care delivery process.

However, the high costs associated with complete overhauls of existing infrastructure are likely to restrain many hospitals from adopting HIT platforms. Cost containment is one of the biggest issues facing the healthcare industry, and although hospitals may be keen on investing in sophisticated new technologies, they may find it difficult to do so within their restricted budgets.

Apart from budget constraints, the varying levels of technological sophistication across Europe pose major implementation challenges to healthcare providers. In addition, numerous other related costs in terms of the time taken for installation and full operation of the systems, training time and workflow interruptions are other areas of concern.

“The industry is still not very receptive to complete HIT overhauls," says Mr. John. “Budgetary restraints, time and change management and the existence of a large number of legacy systems are affecting further penetration of HIT platform adoption across Europe."

Thus, HIT platform providers looking to sell complete solutions need to focus on winning HIS contracts that involve smaller implementations. This will allow them to establish relationships with first-time buyers to whom they can sell greater functionality or more advanced solutions at a later date when more funds are available. For this, they will need to leverage their portfolios and reputation as vendors with a proven track record will be best positioned to create a larger
installed base.

Since it is unlikely that care providers will undertake complete replacements for the moment due to the huge expenditure involved, HIT platform vendors would do well to build market share by competing for smaller but valuable contracts. As healthcare becomes progressively more integrated, the existing installations will be able to upgrade with greater ease, and consequently, at lower costs.

European Markets for Healthcare IT Platforms, part of the Healthcare and Life Sciences IT Subscription, provides an overview of the market dynamics and revenues, along with a complete analysis of key drivers, restraints, and trends in Germany, France, the United Kingdom, Italy, Spain, Scandinavia and Benelux. In this research service, Frost & Sullivan's expert analysts thoroughly examine the following: clinical information systems and administrative information systems. Interviews with the press are available.

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