In a time of declining federal budgets, there are only a handful of growth areas in the Washington area. Given the current focus on military health and health-care reform, health-related information technology is poised to be one of those areas.

According to Deltek research, federal health IT spending is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 2.2 percent over the next five years from $4.3 billion in 2014 to $4.8 billion in 2019.

Technology requirements and demand for increased capabilities are likely to fuel investments in electronic health records, analytics, decision support systems, telehealth, storage and cloud computing. Procurements for Veterans Affairs and Defense electronic record programs are currently receiving much attention, providing the most year-over-year growth for the segment.

One of the more innovative and interesting market categories is that of “promoter” of health care. These are government health departments charged with protecting citizens from health risks such as communicable diseases and bio-terrorism.

They also promote public wellness through campaigns targeted toward reducing smoking, diabetes and obesity, as well as increasing population insurance coverage and improving prenatal care.

Several federal agencies act as promoters of public health as part of their missions. The promoter category is dominated by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Centers for Disease Control, Food and Drug Administration, National Cancer Institute and National Institutes of Health, where spending should remain steady at $900 million annually throughout the forecast period.

Advances in technology now allow agencies to collect, store and compare data; conduct research; and analyze massive amounts of information to further efforts to find cures, contain outbreaks and uncover risk factors.

In fact, biomedical research data is amassing at a rate that can’t be handled by traditional IT tools. Agencies are trying innovative methods to store, retrieve and analyze such large data sets.

For instance, the National Cancer Institute is testing a cloud-based infrastructure to process, store and analyze its massive genomic data sets. NCI awarded three contracts in September for pilot projects to create cloud computing environments that are to house a Cancer Genome Atlas totaling 2.5 petabytes in size. (One petabyte equals 1,000 terabytes.)

Similarly, the CDC is using technology to track the locations of cellphone users calling emergency call centers in West Africa in order to predict the onset and spread of Ebola outbreaks.

Contractors may want to pay heed, and make use of new IT technology to pose innovative solutions for making large data sets available to researchers across the country.

Angie Petty is a senior principal research analyst for Herndon-based Deltek, which conducts analysis on the government contracting market and can be found at www.deltek.com.

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