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.

Popular Information Technology Certification Programs

Before you explore the information technology certification programs, you have to figure out what kind of job you want. Of course, the various programs are tailored for specific types of jobs within IT. This article will discuss some of the popular certification options and provide an overview of the types of jobs you will be qualified for.

Cisco Certification

This certification qualifies you to work on the computer networking infrastructure for large companies. A typical technician with Cisco certification will support networking equipment such as routers, switches, and even telecommunications equipment. You will be responsible for making sure the equipment remains operational, is optimized for performance, is secure, and be a part of equipment upgrades and new projects.

Microsoft Certification

Microsoft certification covers a wide range of technologies ranging from application support, server support, database administration, and even computer programming. This certification consistently ranks among the most sought after IT certifications and is frequently cited as a must have for plethora of different job openings.

For the most part, there is a certification for every single Microsoft product or technology. For most people, we often choose following a path with Microsoft or following a path with Unix. Either way, it is suggested to become an expert at one or the other to narrowly focus your training and certification efforts.

Security

There are quite a few programs that revolve around IT security. You may work on firewalls, network intrusion protection and monitoring, and computer forensics. Care has to be taken to make sure you are going after a reputable certification. There are many out there, but only a few have a good reputation in the industry. Security Certification is consistently one of the fastest growing segments of Information Technology. You may find a job monitoring network security, creating standards for end-users and other IT people, or even doing forensic examinations for law enforcement or IP protection at large companies.

Oracle

The Oracle certification generally covers all aspects of databases. These certs range from standard DBA work, which is administration and performance monitoring and improvement – To database architecture for some of the most complex databases in the world. Either way you should expect a high job demand, great salary, and unlimited potential to grow your skills and certification levels.

Unix

All of the major Unix flavors have certification opportunities. Most of the companies in the world have some Unix servers and the concepts that are learned from a Redhat certification, for example, can be used in many different applications. Most of the products you use every day have some form of Unix operating system. For this reason, these skills and knowledge you get from Unix certification can open a lot of doors with different job opportunities.

The information technology certification programs listed here are always in the top 10 most sought after in the industry. No matter which way you go you should expect a higher than average salary and a lot of job opportunity. The key is to research your options and determine the type of job you want, and then worry about the certification you will have to obtain to get that job. In other words, work backwards and you will end up exactly where you want to be.

Advantages of Information Technology

What is Information Technology

Information technology is the use and application of the computer system to process, manage and distribute information. Use of IT in this context involves both the hardware and software components.

Some major advantages of Information Technology in various areas are listed below:

Speed and Accuracy in information Processing

With the use of IT more work can be done by individuals, businesses, services and government organisations. Function enhancement programs such as word processors, database programs and spreadsheets can get work done in less time with increased accuracy and efficiency.

Global Social Interaction

IT has made global social and cultural interaction very simple. This is evident with the emergence and success of social networking websites, such as Facebook and Twitter. More so, the use of information technology has eliminated language barriers with technologies such as language translators.

Entertainment

The introduction and use of high tech applications and gadgets such as iTunes, iPod and iPone has been revolutionary. Downloading, buying, playing and organising, music, videos, movies and TV shows has been made super easy and accessible. The gallant advancement of information technology through history puts the world in your palm with technologies such as iPad and Amazon Kindle.

Communication

The effect of information technology on universal communication is phenomenal. Telecommunication has gone beyond the use of basic technologies. With the advancement of the Internet and technologies such as VoIP (Voice over IP), organizations, businesses and individuals can communicate any time from different parts of the world through video and voice calls, web conferencing, seminars and virtual meetings.

Economic Advancement

A major step to global economic advancement is the removal of distance and time barriers brought about by the application of information technology to buying and selling of goods and services (e-commerce). E-commerce gave room for tiny, small and big business players to emerge. Interconnection of businesses is made painless. Thousands of local, national and international businesses and enterprises now have what is referred to as ‘web presence’ and can now reach wider audience.

Education

Education has gone far beyond the use of bricks and mortal classrooms or traditional blackboards. The world is now in the era of e-learning, using technologies such as VLEs (Virtual Learning Environments). Students can have access to all teaching materials and resources online; engage in virtual classrooms real time or asynchronously.

Health

The use of IT has led to an overall improvement in quality, safety and efficiency in the health care delivery system. The health care sector is positively impacted by the use of electronic health records, virtual healthcare team technologies, telemedicine, e-health grids and various specialist health care information systems.

Information technology had brought phenomenal changes to all aspect of life. The positive impact has been global and the change continues to grow exponentially. However, the disadvantages can not be ignored. A major menace brought about by IT is security and drastic reduction in privacy.