Spending on health information technology (HIT) by federal agencies has grown steadily since 2014 and reached a high-water mark in fiscal 2018, according to Bloomberg Government. The main drivers of federal health IT spending in 2018 were electronic health record (EHR) modernization and telemedicine. Agencies that led in spending were the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), and the Department of Defense (DoD).
Here’s how the VA and DoD allocated their EHR dollars:
- In May 2018, Congress approved the VA’s plan to adopt the DoD’s EHR system. The VA spent $487 million of the $10 billion it had budgeted for the conversion in 2018 alone, making it the department’s biggest spend.
- DoD spending also was up in 2018 to $338 million from $153 million in FY17, according to Bloomberg.
Together, the agencies have spent less than $1 billion of their combined $13.4 billion EHR budget. Keep an eye on their spending, because according to Bloomberg, EHR spending alone could expand the federal health IT market.
Another area of projected growth is in the “anywhere-to-anywhere” medicine approach of telehealth:
- The VA has obligated $80 million to telehealth since 2014, with more than half of it – approximately $44 million – awarded in FY18. This may not seem as substantial as EHR, but Bloomberg cites recent developments, such as a VA announcement that its health care providers can support veterans through telehealth, even if it crosses state lines. They took the initiative a step further by partnering with Walmart in late 2018 to reach veterans in rural communities.
The VA is likely to remain the leader in telehealth, and it is an interesting move for them to partner with a private company to ensure they reach the veterans they serve. Like EHR, telehealth will be a space to watch for federal health IT spending in the coming years.