Hospital Information Program: Bang for the Buck

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

Hospital technology is no longer just a chip that automatically cycles blood pressure at programmed intervals. Software programs control the collection and storage of data in all aspects of patient care; From patient admission checks to invoice creation. Technology is a serial item in the modern hospital budget, and it’s not going away.

Traditionally, hospital information technology and health information technology in general use many parallel systems with overlapping parts. Data entry points for storing patient information from multiple arenas were developed before computer networking protocols allowed electronic files to be transferred between devices. Provides lab tests, MARs, (Medication Administration Records), and other electronically stored data sources to computerized Kardexes, nursing care plans, physician-dictated operational reports, and nursing intervention checklists, to name a few.

Good IT infrastructure pays off. The hidden cost of maintaining older systems involves more than tickets to random tech support calls. Frequent restarts of buggy software may increase wait times for patients and staff alike. The lack of reliable interfaces between systems leads to deterioration of communication between departments. Unavailable lab results may lead to repeat tests. Employee frustration and hostility can result from having to work with substandard equipment. A patient who notices the inefficiency of the system may lose confidence.

Doctors, nurses, and other clinicians rely on hospital information systems to meet patients’ needs.
Making healthcare data accessible to providers in a seamless manner translates to a more efficient bedside workflow. Reducing barriers to work flow in the hospital also improves patient outcomes.

Focus on buying smart. Cheap is not always less expensive. Hospitals must look forward to get the most out of their investments in technology and data management.

Plan and implement the best hospital IT strategy.

  1. Survey employees about problem IT areas
  2. Set specific technical goals
  3. Create a technology panel that includes end users of clinicians, biomedical engineering, faculty, and administrators
  4. Invite a variety of vendors to present or “promote” their products on the tech board
  5. Prepare questions and take notes

IT considerations in the short and long term.

  1. How will the unit workflow be improved?
  2. How much training will employees need?
  3. Where else is the system located, how does it work?
  4. Is free technical support available, for how long?
  5. Does this system interact well with hardware and software already in use?
  6. Are the patient’s rights to privacy securely protected?
  7. Can electronic records be transferred securely and efficiently?
  8. Can custom datasets be built as needed by hospital IT administrators?
  9. How much downtime is needed to maintain the system?
  10. Does this company rank highly in customer service?

Get your team on board. Develop realistic IT goals, take thirty minutes to brainstorm at a staff meeting. List each piece of equipment and each system and graph your likes and dislikes, problem areas. Develop questions for sellers. Invite interested parties, and invest the “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 nurses, physicians, and other clinicians who are end users.