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.

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.

Copyright 2010 – All rights reserved by PETAP.org.

What Is the Role of Information Technology?

Strictly speaking, Information Technology (IT) has been influencing society for thousands of years. Smoke signals, the abacus, writing, paper, pens and the printing press were all once considered the forefront of IT because those technologies were the latest and greatest in communication.

But today it is widely accepted that the forefront of IT lies in digital communications. As with all historical Information Technology developments, digital communication technology is revolutionary in terms of society, business, defence and culture.

But what is it about digital communications that sets it apart from all other previous technological advances? What is the role that this technology can play in modern society?

Firstly, IT acts as a facilitator. It is a medium that permits large volumes of information to be stored, processed or transferred at lightning speed. This means that there is more information at hand to make decisions, maintain relationships, monitor markets or follow movements.

The power of this notion should not be underestimated, it allows people to make decisions based on masses of up to date information. The military, educational institutions and large business have long understood the power of this notion but it has only been in the last ten years that mainstream society has also embraced the power of information for both social movements and small business.

Secondly, Information Technology is an enabler. Only a select minority of specialized companies in the world can claim that IT is their business. Most corporations and institutions use Information Technology to enable functions that drive their core business. This may include better communication between staff, suppliers or customers or it may include better asset management. Whatever the function, digital communication makes the storage, processing or transfer of information more efficient than ever before. But it is important to note that in essence it does not change core businesses, ideals, ethics or movements. It just enables them to function at a greater scale much more efficiently.

Lastly, Information Technology assumes the role of custodian. As data and information is amassed on just about any subject you care to imagine, massive stores of data are emerging ready to service any new requests. And therein lies the security paradox that modern Information Technology presents. One can argue that more available information makes our lives more efficient, safer and richer. Whilst the other argument is that the very same information that provides these benefits is also our achilles heal due to the security implications of unauthorized infiltration.

There is little doubt that the role of information technology is directed and constrained by the very technology that defines it. Today, that technology allows us to collect, manipulate and communicate masses of information. As a consequence, the role of IT revolves around improving the efficiency, capacity, speed or accuracy of any elements that can benefit from the functions that modern Information Technology systems provide.

Acquiring Accredited Educational Training in Information Technology

In order for businesses to operate at full capacity they need their computer systems to work properly and remain secure. Information technicians are needed to manage and maintain these systems. Acquiring accredited educational training in information technology can be done through various schools and colleges. The field of information technology allows students to enter specific careers, which is only possible after gaining an appropriate education.

The workability, security, and availability of an organization’s technological resources are the main focal point of this industry. Professionals spend hours working with business technologies to provide usable interfaces, which can include databases, networks, applications, and digital systems. Students have many opportunities for educational training. Training options include:

  • Certificate Programs
  • Associates Degree Programs
  • Bachelors Degree Programs
  • Masters Degree Programs
  • Doctorates Degree Programs

Each level of training prepares students to accomplish specific and detailed oriented tasks. Information technology schools and colleges also offer students the chance to work through programs with a concentration. Popular concentrations include computer information science and information security. Students should explore career opportunities to choose the best educational training for their professional goals.

When completing an undergraduate degree program students can expect to gain a strong foundational understanding of the field. Computer operating, information, and programming systems are emphasized inside certificate programs. Training is broad and focuses on preparing students to install, manage, and operate different systems. Students often complete certificate programs to decide on which area of the field they would like to specialize in. Depending on the program students learn about computer science through course topics such as programming, project management, and database development. Associates degree programs also highly focus on the field as a whole to prepare students for a wide range of jobs. Technical communications, management systems, and network design principles are main areas of study. Students gain the skills needed to create, install, and maintain computer networks.

A majority of students start their education at the bachelor’s degree level. Educational training centers on the ability to develop, maintain, and configure a wide range of technologies. This service is utilized by organizations to manage their informational resources. Courses prepare students to solve technical problems and assist company users with technological needs. A wide range of subjects explore professional duties, which include studies in digital media publishing, networking, and application development. Through a typical 120 credit hour program students can step into careers as database managers, quality assurance analysts, and computer security specialists.

Graduate training programs explore advanced topics along with management techniques to prepare students for leadership positions inside their careers. Inside a master’s degree program management techniques and technology are examined. Through courses on multimedia, security, risk management, and operation system application, students gain strategic and operational management skills. To become high-level researchers, specialists, and professors a doctorate program is required. Global, finance, and organizational technology issues are explored in depth giving students advanced knowledge of the field.

This industry is growing continually as technology increasingly becomes more of an integral part to the information of businesses and organizations. Students can step into lucrative and satisfying careers once accredited educational training is completed. The Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges ( http://www.accsc.org/ ) is approved to fully accredited higher learning programs that offer quality preparation and coursework.

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.

Copyright 2010 – All rights reserved by PETAP.org.

A Basic Understanding of Information Technology Certification Programs

Every industry in this time and age requires information technology to be able run smoothly and effectively. Due to this factor there is an increasing demand for experts in the field of IT. Technological aids are being used to teach in schools, hospitals are using advanced medical technology and also government institution needs to share and store data in large volumes. These are just a few of the many instances of the role of technology in most organizations.

As days progress, there is demand for qualified experts that have certification in information technology. Unlike in the past IT has wide areas of specialization. In view of this fact, colleges, and universities keep on researching to unsure that the certification programs that are relevant and add value to graduates. Technology has evolved to capture issues of innovation, development as well adaptation of existing technology.

The professional certification in computer and related technology is commonly known as information technology certification. The IT certification programs are offered by most colleges and universities. This certification programs are an equivalent of ACCA certification in the accounting field. However unlike most fields, IT is ever changing and the certification programs acquired at one time or another need to be updated and renewed time after time to stay relevant in market. This is applicable mostly to certifications that revolve around products and services offered by a certain company.

Information technology has several specialty fields that one can focus on. The fields offered for specialization include data base management, information and systems analysts, information systems auditing, software engineering and network administration. Most of the certification programs in information technology are offered in progressive stages offering different skills and take one at a time.

There are many IT certification programs are also available online. Caution should be observed while pursuing a program online as they are many schools offering online studies but not all certifications are acceptable in the job market. This is the case even is some of on-campus programs that end up being irrelevant in the industry. Institutions should take time to invest their resources in doing research to guarantee they offer programs that are relevant and up to date.

Establishment of research and development centers for staff and students is another way that schools, colleges and university can invest in to ensure they are not being passed by time and technology. Students in information technology field need a platform to study, research and also develop relevant technology in their field of interest. The colleges and universities will greatly benefit by the innovations and developments achieved in such data centers. This ends up being a two way benefit for the college and the students who get a practicing avenue for what they learn.

Those wishing to gain a meaningful understanding in the field should consider obtaining certification. People looking to changing careers would also consider this a good start point to get into the diverse field of information technology. The basic requirement to start a career in IT would be joining accredited information certification programs to pursue academic advancement. Most professionals need IT certification programs to remain relevant in the market.