Government driving health IT in Asia-Pac

$1.2 billion market projected to reach $2.2 billion by 2018

Taking a cue from U.S. stimulus initiatives such as HITECH, Asia Pacific countries are seeing a big uptick in electronic health record adoption thanks to government investment, according to a new report from Frost & Sullivan.

A combination of regulations and incentives is spurring adoption of EHR systems in Asia-Pacific countries as the region's healthcare industry moves towards digitization, according to Frost & Sullivan. Governments, non-profit entities and the private sector are aggressively investing in health IT projects at both regional and local levels in an effort to achieve seamless information exchange and recognize cost savings and improved clinical outcomes.

Frost & Sullivan's report, "EMR and EHR Market in APAC," finds that the market saw some $1.2 billion in revenue in 2012 – projected to nearly double to $2.2 billion by 2018.

"Government initiatives to establish standards, regulations and infrastructure further encourage healthcare providers to adopt EMR and EHR technology," said Frost & Sullivan Healthcare Research Analyst Natasha Gulati in a statement. "Medical professionals hope to improve operational efficiency; medical resource utilization; patient data access in rural areas and aged care programs through EMR systems."

However, challenges related to interoperability and a lack of technical skills among medical professionals threaten to symie market development, according to Frost & Sullivan. Expensive health IT investments are a challenge to justify as providers in Asia Pacific countries struggle with tight finances. Their inability to extend their operational budgets to include sophisticated solutions restricts revenue inflow, researchers say.

Governments looking to fund the implementation of these solutions must balance their grants between new investments as well as maintenance and upgrades, according to the report, which finds that, in addition to funding, governments are collaborating with software and infrastructure companies to build EHR networks in public hospitals.

"Healthcare groups and solution vendors are investing in training programs to build a skilled medical workforce that can leverage sophisticated technologies," said Gulati. "Several universities have developed curricula on health IT management, health informatics and public health information management to facilitate superior healthcare delivery."

[See also: Building with BRICS]