NHS acute trusts in England will be spending more on new IT infrastructure and systems in the coming year, despite continued financial pressures, according to research.
'The view from the shop floor' report from EHI Intelligence reveals that nearly 70 percent of acute trusts say their main IT priority in the coming year is to deliver new infrastructure, up from just 40 percent last year.
This health IT investment will become more patient-focused, shows the research, with almost 50 percent of those surveyed saying their trust is looking to invest in either an electronic patient record (EPR) or portal system.
Lindsay Bell, the report's author, said: "Although their trusts are still facing financial pressures, respondents expect these to be less severe than last year, with only 17 percent expecting their overall trust budget to fall by more than 20 percent, compared to 37 percent last year.
"This optimism also applies to IT departments, which no longer fear the worst. The survey found the respondents predicting an average reduction in IT budgets to be just four percent compared to eight percent last year."
The research found the number of trusts expecting to have to make drastic reductions of more than 20 percent in their IT budget has fallen sharply, down from 27 percent last year to six percent this year.
The survey also reveals that trusts are becoming more business-focused when it comes to IT spend, with trust boards becoming more influential regarding the sign-off of IT strategies and business cases for investments.
Bell said that in the future suppliers will have to show that their products "can deliver a significant return on investment within a short timescale".
"The view from the shop floor" report is based on responses from 195 IT directors and others working in acute sector IT.Last month EHI Intelligence said NHS acute trusts in England will be spending £830 million a year on IT in four years' time, as they respond to the axing of the National Programme for IT and other pressures.