A best practice approach to procuring your Healthcare Information Systems (HIS)
HIMS – Best Practice Approach to Procuring your HIS
Historically clinics and hospitals used paper to document and manage the patients’ medical record. Automation in the healthcare setting predominantly focused on financial accounting and billing.
With he advancement of science and medicine and the overburden of knowledge and newer evidence-based healthcare approaches combined with international standards adoption in the way of patient safety and quality of care, it had become increasingly more demanding on staff in clinical settings to manage patients. The demand on more efficiency and information at the point of care slowly gave rise to the automation of clinical and non-clinical information systems where initially it served merely to automate a business process and over time evolved to more complex solutions that could support knowledge content and provide value-add like decision support at the point of care with the idea of reducing the use of paper documentation.
A Hospital Information System (HIS) today refers a comprehensive, integrated information system or solution that is designed to automate and manage all medical, administrative, financial and legal aspects of a healthcare organization.
In the industry of healthcare information technology (HIT) certain terms need some definition as the evolution and innovation in HIT today is so accelrated that it is hard to keep up with the advancements.
A Healthcare Information System (HIS) is an application that provides automation and meets the business requirements of the clinical, pharmacy, laboratory, radiology, patient billing and inventory management functions of a healthcare facility.
A Healthcare Information Management System (HIMS) is an integrated set of applications or modules that meet the functions of a HIS and in addition the financial, human resources and supply chain management functions of a healthcare facility.
Some thirty years back when technology architectures were not so advanced many facilities employed programmers that wrote in-house applications to support their different business functions and as time progressed gave rise to legacy systems that were disparate, outdated in functions and features and required customization at a high cost to integrate with other newer technologies that would compliment their newer business requirements.
Today a multitude of vendors have developed integrated commercially over the shelf (COTS) HIS to meet the demands of today’s healthcare organizations. Most of these COTS are designed with todays technology architecture that facilities access through the world wide web (www) and built with enough configurability and scalability that the investment made in procuring a HIS is a long term return on investment.
Due to the complexity of healthcare operations today and their demands to conform to international patient safety and quality standards the selection of your healthcare facilities HIS requires much planning, process, budget allocation and the appropriate team to design, build, implement and operate these newer complex HIS.
Despite many COTS having developed integrated and complex HIS that meets most of today’s business functions of a hospital, user adoption and ease of implementation is highly dependent on capturing your business unit requirements, stakeholder expectations and overall digital strategy.
So the precursors to starting your HIS procurement is to document you business process workflows, establish the functional business requirements of each clinical and non-clinical business unit, understand your organizations strategic business and IT objectives, establish a strong evaluation and implementation team, understand your standards of adoption for business, information, data, applications and technology.
Most procurement of HIS is driven by the issuance of a RFP (Request for Proposal). Depending on the expansiveness of the HIS requirements the clinic or hospital may opt to issue a RFI (Request for Information) to shortlist prospective vendors.
Health-e-Solutions have on behalf of some of the leading international hospitals been managing the procurement and implementation of best-in-class HIS in the Middle East for the past 16 years.
The rationale behind using Health-e-Solutions as a procurement manager for HIS is their successful and experienced team that have worked with most leading edge global HIS as well as their development of the most comprehensive and well respected procurement methodologies in todays era of Healthcare Information Technology.
Health-e-Solutions advocates some simple yet comprehensive steps to successfully selecting; procuring and implementing the most appropriate HIS for your clinic or hospital.
As a general guide to HIS procurement, Shiraaz Joosub, CEO of Health-e-Solutions recommends:
Document the business requirements of each business units and consolidate and map these to COTS solutions.
Document your current state business process maps that are integrated with other business units (integrated swim-lane business process maps).
Establish an evaluation team that has business unit expertise and a flair for technology adoption.
Issue and RFI (Request for Information) with specific “knock-out” criteria to shortlist vendors that will participate in a complex RFP.
Develop and RFP and procurement methodology that ensures detailed evaluation of the RFP responses with specific scoring guidelines, weighted criteria and outcomes measures that independently measure technical and commercial proposal responses.
Ensure adequate reference checks and site visits are performed to ensure financial viability, sustainability and success in implementation especially from a user-driven perspective.
Make certain to get users heavily involved in scripted demos as it will support user adoption and championing from the get-go.
Always maintain two vendors in the competitive race to the finish line as if one fails with the commercial aspects you already know you have another technically qualified HIS vendor.
Always develop protective contracts for the design, build and implementation of your HIS with adequate performance penalties in place.
Build a partnership with your HIS vendor rather than a business relationship, as it will have a high impact on sustainability and evolution over the maturity of your digital strategy.
This article is a mere snapshot of the methodology one could use to design, procure and implement your Healthcare Information System. Health-e-Solutions and its team members have been advocates of best practice process in HIS procurement and are readily available to provide insight and guidance to the exciting journey of Healthcare Information Systems Procurement.