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Technology Can Help Fight Health Care Costs

According to a recent Florida State University study, hospitals can combat spiralling health care costs by investing more in IT// for all hospital operations.

According to Ken Lubben, information technology specialist for the two hospitals, Manatee Memorial and Lakewood Ranch Medical Centre, have already made big investments in improved technology in the last few years. He said that, the hospitals are yet to reap any real financial benefits from it, and it would probably take a few years before they see any return on that investment.

250 leaders from business, the health insurance industry and others in health care in a 2006 Commonwealth Fund survey ranked the use of health care information technology use as a top priority to combat high health care costs. According to the FSU study, even though there are definite advantages with the IT for health care facilities, adoption of technology in health care has lagged behind as compared with other major industries.

Dr. John Halamka, chairman of the New England Health Electronic Data Interchange Network, and chairman of the Health Information Technology and Standards Panel, established by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says that, other industries spend 12% of their operating budget on IT while health care spends only 2 to 3%.

According to research by Forrester Research, an independent technology and market research company, the IT budgets at large U.S. hospitals are expected to rise about 3.1 percent in 2006. Hospitals are expected to invest mostly in clinical software improvements, but also will probably increase their investment in data storage, particularly in the area of picture archiving, communications systems and disaster recovery, which became important in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

The hospitals, Manatee Memorial and Lakewood Ranch Medical Centre owned by Universal Health Services are the fourth-largest for-profit hospital company
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