The U.S. health care industry will increase spending on information technology by 2.6% to $28.4 billion in 2009, according to Gartner Inc., a Stamford, Conn.-based research and consulting firm.

Because of the recession, the rate of growth will be down substantially from 2008, when health I.T. spending grew 6.6%, and 2007, when it grew 7%, says John Lovelock, Gartner’s research VP for health care. Nevertheless, I.T. spending will grow more in health care during 2009, than any other sector of the U.S. economy, he says.

One significant reason for the continued growth, Lovelock says, is the expectation of federal financial incentives for electronic health records under the economic stimulus package in the coming years. Another, he says, is that health care is playing “catch up” after years of spending less on I.T. than other sectors. “Only in the last few years has clinical software been as functional as advertised,” he adds.

U.S. health care I.T. spending will grow more rapidly in the years ahead as the economic stimulus’ impact is felt more profoundly, Lovelock says. By 2011, he predicts spending growth will return to the 6.6% level achieved in 2008.

For more information on Gartner’s latest I.T. spending report, “Dataquest Alert: Utilities, Healthcare and Government Lead IT Spending Growth in Challenging 2009,” visit

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