Healthcare Information Technology Investment Trends

According to US government data (US Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA)), Healthcare industry investment in computers, software and communications equipment has grown by a compound annual rate (CAGR) of 6% since 2000.  For the rest of the private (non-government) US market, such investment has grown at a slightly lower rate of 5% per year.

Interactive investment dashboard

The interactive dashboard below shows IT investment for a group (1 or more) of user-selected, 3-digit NAICS industries (blue).  The rest of the US market is shown in gray.  The default selections are the 3 healthcare sub-industries of Hospitals, Ambulatory Care and Nursing Facilities (see “Select industry” in the dashboard).  The top chart shows investment over time in 2009 $; the bottom chart shows CAGR over time.

As you read our analysis below, we invite you to follow along by making changes to the dashboard to show the trends we are discussing.  Changes are made in the “filters” “Select industry”, “Select years” and “Select investment type” found at the top of the dashboard.

Healthcare information technology investment

In 2015 (the last year for which BEA data are available), the Healthcare industry invested $10.6 billion (2009 $) in computers, software and communications equipment (e.g. phone systems, internet and networking equipment).  62% of this was invested by Hospitals, 32% by Ambulatory Care providers and 6% by Nursing Facilities.

Note that Healthcare industry spending on information technology consists of more than equipment and software.  A sizable share is spent on IT services (such as system integration and consulting) and IT outsourcing.  Forrester estimates that the Healthcare industry spent over 3.5 times what it did on equipment on IT services and outsourcing in 2016.  Over 70% of this additional spending is on outsourcing alone.  The BEA data only cover “fixed asset gross investment”.

Of the three “equipment” components of Healthcare information technology investment, software has exhibited the strongest growth (see “Select investment type” in the dashboard).  Since 2000, software investment has grown by a compound annual rate of 7.6%, mirroring the growth seen by rest of the US market (7.9%).

Pop quiz: Using the dashboard above, of the three healthcare sub-industries, which one had the highest rate of growth in software investment over the 2000 to 2015 period? It may not be what you first suspect.

As of 2015, Healthcare investment in communications equipment has grown by 4.0% per year while computer (hardware) investment has grown by 3.6% per year.  Nursing Facilities exhibited the strongest growth in hardware investment at 5.7% per year.

Note that this is total investment which can rise due to higher demand at each facility and/or an increase in the number of facilities over time.

Computer hardware investment

Digging deeper into computer (hardware) equipment investment reveals some startling trends.

Both PC and server investment have been growing at 6.7% and 4.3% per year since 2000.  However, the annual rate of change in PC investment has been negative since about 2007.

Also, the annual rate of change in physical server investment has been essentially flat since about 2005.  This latter trend is consistent with movement towards virtual and cloud-based servers.

The real standout is investment in physical storage equipment.

Physical storage investment by the Healthcare industry has actually declined by 1.6% per year since 2000.  The most likely reason for this trend is again the movement towards “cloud” storage solutions.  Physical storage investment peaked in 2007 in the Healthcare industry.  Selecting “Select years” in the dashboard to show “1980 to 2015” and the “Select industry” to display to “All” reveals that the peak in physical storage equipment investment in the total, private US market occurred 7 years earlier in 2000.

Printers have also apparently lost their luster.  Healthcare investment in printers has declined by an annual rate of 1.7% since 2000.  Again, looking over the entire 1980 to 2015 time frame, printer investment peaked in 2002 and has been in a downward trend every since.

Healthcare investment in displays increased by 3.0% per year since 2000.  However, since 2004, the trend in annual investment has been flatNursing Facilities exhibited the strongest growth in display investment at 5.3% per year over the 2000 to 2015 period.

What have been the IT investment trends in other industries?

We invite you to play with this dashboard to conduct a similar analysis for any one (or multiples) of 60+ industries.  The limitation, as alluded to above, is that the investment shown is total or aggregate investment.  On a per business or employee basis, trends may be quite different.  We will pick this up in a future article.


Healthcare investment in computers, software and communications equipment has grown by 6% per year since 2000.