Providers are increasing spending on IT and software, survey finds

By Emily Olsen for Healthcare Dive

Dive Brief:

  • Healthcare providers are boosting their investments in IT and software, with nearly 80% of executives reporting they materially increased spending over the past year, according to a new survey from consultancies Bain and Klas Research. Around three-quarters of executives expect growth in technology and software spending to continue over the next year.
  • Thirty-five percent of leaders said technological advancements and the availability of new tools were top drivers for new IT investments, while 16% cited labor shortages and 8% reported incentives driven by other financial pressures.
  • Revenue cycle management and clinical workflow optimization tools are top priorities for spending as providers lean on technologies that offer clear and immediate returns on investment. 

Dive Insight:

As providers double down on IT spending, respondents noted they’re looking for more simplified technology stacks and fewer vendors, according to the survey of more than 200 healthcare executives.

Eighty-one percent said they prioritize buying from existing vendors, a boon for electronic health record companies as 79% noted they’d look to their health records vendor first. 

Still, executives are willing to consider third parties in the future, especially for some of their top investments.

While 94% said they’d be open to considering outside companies for revenue cycle management, 82% noted they could look to third parties for clinical workflow optimization tools. However, most executives noted integration with their EHR would still be a top priority. 

Generative artificial intelligence, or algorithms that can create content like text, has become an increasingly hot topic in healthcare as tech giants like Microsoft and Amazon release tools they say will cut down on providers’ administrative work. 

Nearly 6% of executives in the Bain and Klas survey said they have a generative AI strategy in place. About half said they’re developing one or plan to do so in the near term. 

But provider sentiment about AI in general is mixed, and opinions vary across provider types. Forty percent of health system and hospital leaders expressed positive feelings about AI. Only 24% of freestanding hospital executives expressed positive feelings, compared with 53% of academic medical center leaders. 

“AI has the power to transform many processes and workflows. However, this shift hinges on the technology’s ability to demonstrate productivity gains in real-world applications without increasing clinical risk,” Eric Berger, a partner in Bain’s Healthcare and Life Sciences practice, said in a statement. 

Health system and hospital executives said lack of technical expertise, regulatory and legal concerns, and unclear benefits were some of the top barriers to AI adoption. Academic medical center leaders were also concerned with data access and quality, while freestanding hospital executives cited cost worries and physician groups added clinical risk and lack of transparency among AI models.  

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