Buying a Clinical Information Technology System

Buying a clinical information technology system challenges every organization’s senior management team. Unlike other administrative applications that help manage a facility, the clinical information technology system touches directly the lives of patients and the work flow of physicians, nurses, and other clinicians. Careers and entire organizations can be ruined by poor vendor choices and botched implementations (e.g., installation of the software and hardware) and deployments (e.g., introduction of applications to end users). Poorly chosen clinical information technology systems can drive physicians to competitor institutions, impact facility accreditation, and in some cases invite litigation due to unexpected morbidity or mortality.

As frightening as this task is, the best way to be successful is to be humble. Senior executives must accept the fact that full investigation of the features and functionality of clinical information technology systems before purchase is impossible. No individual or committee has the technical expertise and available time to effectively evaluate and fully review the capabilities of a comprehensive clinical information technology system. Therefore, organizations must base their decision to purchase systems on factors that function as surrogates for the usefulness and appropriateness of the systems in its institutions. These may include such items as the source of clinical content included with the system, list of organizations using the system, and perceived ease of use of the application.

Evaluate Live Systems

Although information technology vendors utilize demonstrations of their software to educate clients about their products, viewing working systems deployed in patient care areas offers the most valuable information. Unfortunately for both vendors and purchasers, the competitiveness of the healthcare information technology marketplace, couple with the complexity of these systems, encourages vendors to showcase software products during demonstrations that are either partially completed or are in beta version.

Therefore, often what is seen in these demonstrations does not accurately represent the features and functionality currently available. It is important to take vendors at their word when they declare that the demonstrated software is representative of features and functionality under development.

Focus on Deployed Working Systems Only

To increase the probability of purchasing a product that will satisfy the needs of an organization, institutions most focus on existing, working, deployed, and implemented versions of the applications being considered for purchase. The best way to evaluate current-state versions of applications is to visit current clients of each vendor and to witness the daily use of the various applications. Organizations must be patient and allocate adequate time to see the systems working under all conditions. This includes visiting multiple hospitals and various patient care areas throughout each hospital.

Forge Solid Vendor Relationships

For most organizations, it is more prudent to engage in relationships with vendors that have established working applications that can be immediately deployed and utilized. Although working, released software will have its inevitable share of problems, it is likely there will be fewer problems and solutions will be readily found.

In some cases, it may be advantageous to engage in relationships with vendors that are offering software that hast just been released or is under development. In these instances, organizations must enter the agreement recognizing the potential benefits from such arrangements but also the problems and delays in the software that may be associated with purchasing new, untested software. Organizations that do not have extensive information technology infrastructure and departments should be wary of entering into these types of arrangements.

The following sections outline a recommended process for choosing clinical information technology for an institution.

Review and Embrace Strategic Vision

The purchase of all clinical information technology tools must be driven by the clinical strategic vision of the organization. The strategic vision represents the views and aspirations of the board of directors, the medical staff, and other clinical professionals in the organization. Clearly, cost control is always a consideration, but the importance of patient safety and quality healthcare overwhelmingly drives decision making.

Broadly Explore Options

A high level of evaluation of your organization will quickly identify the potential suppliers of the application software required. In almost all cases, there will be a relatively small number of vendors who provide software that meets the needs of an organization. Identification of these vendors can be done through a request for information process ( RFI ), searching the Internet, and contacting colleagues at institutions similar to one’s own.

Understand the Vendor

As relationships with application vendors extend far beyond the implementation phase, a strong, open, and trusting relationship is necessary to be able to ensure that implemented software will deliver the expected results to an organization. Because problems will arise, a positive relationship is required to ensure that problems are resolved. A good relationship with a vendor, as exhibited by respectful an honest interactions with all representatives of the organization, unequivocally trumps perceived advantages in features and functionality that might be seen in other products.

Evaluate The Product

The best way to evaluate clinical information technology applications is to actually see them functioning in a real working environment. Unless an organization is working as a development partner with a vendor, various client organizations, comparable to the purchasing institution, should be available to be visited to observe the applications being used by clinical professionals.

Purchasing organizations must budget more than one day to visit these client organizations and see the applications being used at a variety of times during the day. Workloads vary, with morning physician rounds often presenting the greatest demands upon systems because of their high number of new patient orders and the need for patient care documentation. In addition, evening use represents a time when information technology staffing may be low or system maintenance may occur.

Organizations should request that their representatives be allowed to visit patient care areas unencumbered and be able to ask questions of the various users of the applications. The more institutions visited, the better the information that can be collected to evaluate the applications and the vendor.

Understand Pricing

Vendor pricing is greatly influenced by the level of ongoing maintenance payments, the strategic value of the organization to the vendor, and market forces. Therefore, in negotiating products with vendors, be sure to take a very broad and considered view of the products, services, and support being provided.

Cost of ownership includes not only the purchase price of the software but also the ongoing maintenance fee to the vendor and the cost of implementing, deploying, and maintaining the system during its life. Finally, the importance of the quality of the relationship with the vendor cannot be overemphasized, as it will have the greatest impact on the success of implementation and, eventually,clinician adoption.

Secure Adoption

Implementing clinical information technology without broad involvement and support by the clinical staff-requiring focus on all stakeholders, including physicians, nurses, pharmacists, and other health professionals-all but guarantees a failed and wasteful deployment. Clinical information technology systems alone do not fix clinical problems, advance safety, or reduce costs by themselves. These systems provide tools that can be used by clinicians to change how they deliver care. Only with clinician creativity, insight, and experience molding the implementation can new processes deployed with these tools deliver acceptable work flows and generate good outcomes.

If deployment is poor and disruptive, clinicians will create work-arounds to these failing system processes, a development that guarantees medical errors and unacceptable waste. By securing adoption, organizations can be assured of usable systems that are embraced by clinicians and that are able to deliver expected and much-needed clinical and financial outcomes.

Information Technology Management, A Brief

Information technology is an engineering discipline. It is directly linked with computers and telecommunication usage for the retrieval of important data, its transmission and for storing purpose. Management in IT is a branch wherein all the technological resources of any firm are managed according to its priorities and needs. The resources include the entire stall hired to manage and maintain tangible resources like networks, software, computer hardware, data and data centre facilities. Within a company, the management of these responsibilities is directly linked with much other basic functionality like staffing, organizing and controlling, and budgeting. Other than these, there are many other aspects quite unique to technology software designing, change management, technical support, network planning and much more.

There is a visible difference between management information system and management technology information. Management technology information, as stated before, is linked with the entire IT related management activities within an organization. On the other hand, all automation or human support decision making are influenced by MIS. It involves all the methods that mainly focus on all business aspects. It has a very strong input in any business or organization’s technological phase.

IT And Value Creation

All thanks to technology, value creation was made quite possible. A prime focus of management technology information is this value creation. A unique blend of business strategies and technology is required for this purpose. Where value creation involves a very strong internal and external environmental bonding of an organization, technology on the other hand serves as an important source to improve the overall value chain of that particular organization. However, for successful outcome, the increase of business and management technology information requires collaboration, creation and synergistic to work as a team rather than a whole.

The IT Infrastructure

The Information Technology Infrastructure Library v3 state the management technology information infrastructure as a combined set of software, facilities, hardware, and networks so as to test, develop, monitor, deliver, control and support IT services. But, in the ITIL context, the people involved in the process, the process itself and all associated documentations are not a part of IT infrastructure.

IT Managers

The management technology information managers have a lot in common when it comes to project managers. There is one main focus that differentiates the two. When it comes to project manager, the responsibility and accountability factors are both confined to a certain project that has a starting and ending date. The instructions for the entire project completion and beginning are quite clear and restricted. Whereas management technology information is responsible and accountable for any program that is ongoing involving IT services. A large number of programs related to IT are created in a way to educate managers and develop them in a way in order to make them efficient enough so they can easily manage the design, planning, selection, use, implementation, and administration of any converging and emerging information and communication technologies.

There is a list of things an IT manager should be able to do after the completion of these programs such as explaining all important facts, terminologies, principles, concepts etc. that are used in IT management. Applying these concepts, facts, terminologies etc. while analyzing factual situations and to integrate them while developing solutions.

Online Information Technology Learning Programs

The technology behind computers has evolved to the point that almost every business and organization utilizes it. Students that complete information technology training are able to step into a wide range of careers. Online colleges offer students several programs and concentrations that will prepare them for the industry.

Education is available at every level including the option to complete a certificate program. Students are taught to work with a businesses technological component to ensure accessibility and security. With the high level of information stored within a businesses computer system professionals are used to manage the entire network on multiple levels. Online education provides students with a variety of opportunities to enter careers in information technology. Possible areas of study may include:

  • Computer Information Science
  • Computer Information Systems
  • Information Security

To understand what these educational opportunities teach students should research the field of information technology. Concentrated programs are usually available at the undergraduate degree level. Many students that seek graduate training complete information technology degree programs. Exploring the field will give students an idea of what professionals do within different careers.

Certificate and associate’s degree programs in information technology give students the basic skill set to enter careers as technician specialists. A broad understanding is gained inside certificate programs. Computer operation, programming, and system manipulation are some areas of study that may be included inside a program. Some colleges offer students the chance to use certificate and associates degree programs to gain a wide knowledge base that can be used inside a specialization. Website design, technical writing, and information architecture are some areas available to students.

The ability to help computer users solve problems and examine technological needs can be gained inside a bachelor’s degree program. The availability and security of data within a framework of IT services is the goal of understanding the different components that make up the industry. Networking, application development, and digital media publishing are some subjects integrated into a four-year bachelor’s degree program. Students should be ready to complete around 130 credit hours that involve general business, English, and math courses. Specific topics prepare students to work as hardware analysts, programmers, database managers, and more. Students learn how the structure of data is created and how to efficiently manage an entire information system.

Pursuing education at the graduate degree level has students studying advanced technological components and allows them enter careers as managers. Distance learning master’s degree programs have students developing projects where they learn how to set up networks that are usable and controlled. Systems development, risk assessment, technology management, and multimedia configuration are some program topics that help student’s transition into careers. Empirical research and leadership skills are highly stressed within a PhD program. Complicated technology systems are studied such as supply chains, information processing systems, and manufacturing systems. Students explore the deep connection between technologies and the businesses economic endurance. Upper-level positions exist for students that complete graduate training.

Students have many accredited educational choices to choose from to begin careers in information technology. Full accreditation provides proof of a quality training program. Agencies like the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology ( http://www.accsc.org/ ) are approved to accredit qualifying programs. Once an area is selected students can study the necessary skills to become working professionals.

DISCLAIMER: Above is a GENERIC OUTLINE and may or may not depict precise methods, courses and/or focuses related to ANY ONE specific school(s) that may or may not be advertised at PETAP.org.

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