Hospitals and health systems nationwide expect their capital expenditure budgets to drop below 2010 levels as they anticipate patient admission reductions, according to the Premier healthcare alliance’s fall 2012 Economic Outlook. Just forty-one percent of 617 survey respondents – primarily hospital C-suite, and materials and practice area managers – are projecting their capital spending to increase compared to last year. This is down from 42 percent in fall 2010 and a two-year high of 46 percent in spring 2011.

When asked about the area in which they expect to make the largest capital investment over the next year, the hospitals surveyed noted I.T. as a top priority. Some 43 percent cited healthcare information technology (HIT) and telecommunications as the area of largest spend, up from 34 percent in spring 2011. After that, 34 percent cited capital investments in infrastructure and construction as their biggest area of outlay, up from 28 percent in fall 2011.

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