Hospital information systems (HIS) are at the core of digital transformation initiatives at hospitals and health care organisations around the world. Digitisation of health records and integration with departmental and financial hospital systems has led to a more informed, efficient, and personalised approach to health care delivery.
Health care information technology can improve the quality of care management, reduce errors, and provide a significant return on investment (ROI) to organisations that make the move and choose the right technology. Because of that, investment in technology at large as well as smaller health care organisations is escalating rapidly. The global health care information systems market is expected to reach US $169.2 billion by 2025, according to Grand View Research in San Francisco.
Choosing the right HIS system is a key decision for both public and private hospitals and demands a great deal of analysis and diligence. The goal is to ensure that the organisation can use the HIS and intelligent technology to provide value to patients while increasing efficiencies that can lower costs.
Here are seven key factors to consider when investing in an HIS system:
- Extent of IT automation: Advances in information technology have made automation achievable in every aspect of a typical hospital-based HIS implementation. Specialised software can provide exclusive and customised billing or records for patients. Open data platforms can provide complete HIS packages that tackle all hospital requirements, including patient billing, patient records management, OPD scheduling, stores, pharmacy, and operations management. For this reason, evaluating the extent of automation that is necessary and where automation could provide the greatest benefit and value is essential.
- Effect on the patient experience: Like any other industry your customers, the patients, are more likely to come back when they need care if they receive a high quality of service. From their first entry to when they exit from the hospital. This service includes the hospitality of receptionists, navigation facilities inside the hospital building, housekeeping services, promptness and attention from nurses, and the care shown by the physician. Patient experience is largely dictated by how well a HIS system integrates all aspects of a patient journey by bringing together various participants; including the receptionist, clerk, nurses and doctors to enable them to perform their role efficiently and successfully manage the care of each individual patient.
- Level of component integration: Global healthcare trends suggest that hospitals are becoming more and more data-driven. This model offers a system of care where physicians spend less time gathering information from different sources, such as lab reports and a patient’s physical parameters, and more time assessing those parameters to make informed decisions. An effective HIS system helps gather digital data, making it ready for the physician in a presentable format and in a timely manner at the point of care. An effective HIS system connects patient, clinical, departmental, and financial departments. Integration could mean one single HIS platform connecting modules in each hospital department and/or integration with 3rd party systems from other healthcare institutions, government organisations and insurance companies.
- Implementation time: Complete implementation of a HIS system includes software installation, its pilot testing and staff training. The most common approach is getting started with pilot programs and specific workflows, and achieving greater levels of automation over the course of a few years. While the phased approach to roll out a large HIS implementation reduces the impact on day-to-day hospital operations, it does result in prolonged and continuous engagement of hospital staff.
- Post-implementation support cost: After the HIS software sale and implementation, the HIS system is subjected to the load and real-time scenarios that determine its reputation among the hospital staff. Typically, a hospital will experience unforeseen or unplanned issues that need to be tackled within the service level agreement (SLA). The support provided by the HIS vendor plays a significant role in the hospital’s reputation. In addition, like any software platform, HIS systems need regular upgrades. The associated software support cost should be a key consideration when evaluating the right HIS system.
- Software/hardware dependencies: Hardware and software costs for a HIS system need to be analysed and listed in detail. Dependent costs include: upgrading the software/hardware, staff training (after the upgrade), availability of a roll-back option in the event of outages, additional staff required to support emergency outage situations and the nature of emergency support which can vary from online, to phone, to in-person assistance. These associated costs must be fully accounted for to avoid a last-minute upsurge in expenditure in the event of emergency situations.
- Compliance and certifications: Lastly, hospitals must remember to assess the unforeseen and unplanned risks related to HIS system usage. The hardware and software bought from the HIS vendor must be certified on the quality, security, and protection against virus and ransomware attacks that it provides. Look for global certifications that can validate the quality of the HIS solution. Also, the HIS must comply with local government regulations (including legal regulations and other federal directives). Clarify the cost of such certifications and regulation compliance in advance to properly estimate the overall cost of deploying the HIS system.
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