Who Controls The Flow Of Information In The Buying Process Hospital Information Software: Bang for the Buck

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Hospital Information Software: Bang for the Buck

Hospitals must look ahead to get the most out of their technology investments. Administrators can compare the sticker price of new IT system packages, but cost considerations should include ease of implementation, time required to train staff, interface with existing systems, data security, and the use of lightweight coding that does not become cumbersome for a larger system.

Technology in the hospital environment is no longer just a chip that automatically cycles a blood pressure cuff at programmed intervals. Software programs control data collection and storage in all aspects of patient care; from receiving patients to creating invoices. Technology is an item in the budget of modern hospitals and it is not going away.

Traditionally, hospital information technology and health IT in general used many parallel systems with overlapping parts. Data entry points developed to store patient information evolved from multiple arenas before computer network protocols enabled electronic file transfer between machines. Laboratory testing, MARs (Medication Administration Records), and other sources of electronically stored data have evolved into computerized Kardexes, medical care plans, physician-dictated operative reports, and medical intervention checklists, to name a few.

A good IT infrastructure pays for itself. The hidden cost of maintaining outdated systems involves more than the occasional call to tech support. Frequent restarts of faulty software can cause extended wait times for patients and staff. The lack of reliable interfaces between systems degrades communication between departments. Unavailable laboratory results may cause repeat tests. Frustration and hostility from staff can result from working with poor quality equipment. A patient who observes the inefficiency of the system may lose confidence.

Doctors, nurses, and other clinicians rely on hospital information systems to meet patient needs.
Providing providers with access to health data in a fluid manner leads to a more efficient workflow at the bedside. Reducing barriers to hospital workflow also improves patient outcomes.

Focus on smart shopping. Cheap is not always cheaper. Hospitals must look ahead to get the most out of their investments in technology and data management.

Plan and implement your best hospital IT strategy.

  1. Survey staff about problematic IT areas
  2. Set technology-specific goals
  3. Create a Technology Panel that includes clinician end users, biomedical engineering, faculty, and administrators
  4. Invite various vendors to present or “pitch” their products at the Technology Panel
  5. Prepare questions and take notes

Short-term and long-term IT considerations.

  1. How will the work flow of the unit be improved?
  2. How much training will the staff need?
  3. Where else is there a system, how does it work?
  4. Is free technical support available and for how long?
  5. Does this system work well with hardware and software already in use?
  6. Are patients’ rights to privacy safely protected?
  7. Can electronic records be transferred securely and efficiently?
  8. Can hospital IT administrators create custom datasets as needed?
  9. How much downtime is required for system maintenance?
  10. Does this company rank highly for customer service?

Get your team involved. Develop realistic goals for information technology, set aside thirty minutes to brainstorm in a staff meeting. List every piece of equipment and every drawing system, likes and dislikes, problem areas. Develop questions for suppliers. Invite interested parties, involve your “end users” in the process. Invest in technology that serves people. Reduce the amount of human resources spent servicing the technology and it will be embraced by the nurses, doctors and other clinicians who are the ultimate end users.

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