Health IT boosts Indiana's patient care, economy

Indiana's health IT sector, which includes more than 72 growing technologies, along with health plans, life sciences companies, academic institutions, philanthropic organizations and state government, have bolstered healthcare and the economy of the state, according to a new report.

The report, From Dishwashers to Digital Medical Records – Indiana's Leadership in Health Information Technology, from BioCrossroads, Indiana's initiative for investment, development and advancement of the state's signature life sciences strengths, was released Feb. 22 at HIMSS11 in Orlando.

The BioCrossroads report lists 72 startups, 2,500 workers, and $202 million in company revenues as three new ways to measure the progress of Indiana's health information technology innovation cluster. It defines, for the first time, the HIT cluster as a specific sector of life sciences economic activity in Indiana, analyzing core assets and documenting a decade-long story of steady growth.

"Indiana is at the forefront when it comes to the delivery of better healthcare through the use of better information," said David Johnson, president and CEO of BioCrossroads.  "This report is the first place that has staked out the fast-growing field of HIT as a worthy life sciences sector all on its own, and a driver of economic growth as well as higher quality healthcare."

[See also: Indiana leaders urge Congress to see their data exchange as model.]

The report also points out the difference effective philanthropy can make in driving new opportunities, noting the more than $115 million in philanthropic grants that have put Indiana and its well known research institutions such as the Regenstrief Institute on the national map for leading HIT research and entrepreneurial development.

A recent analysis by IBM predicts the total U.S. market for health IT products and services growing annually at a rate of nearly 6 percent, and reaching $42 billion by 2014, "a growth rate that is among the fastest in any industry."

Indiana HIT companies stand to capitalize on this trend, according to BioCrossroads. In 2008 (the most recent year for which data are available), the collective revenues of these companies totaled $202 million, an increase of 125 percent over sales of $90 million in 1998, and coinciding with the rise of Indiana's multiple health information exchange (HIE) networks throughout the state.

[See also: Established HIEs could boost uptake of EHRs.]

Information services/software development businesses claim 58 percent of the sector's jobs; consulting jobs are 27 percent of the employment numbers and electronic medical record companies/health information exchanges have 15 percent of the HIT workforce. Overall, health IT jobs have grown 61 percent over the past five years.

For examples of the the technology companies that have helped boost Indiana's company, see next page.