Over the course of the years, computerized technologies have become an integral part of the business environment. This has been as a result of their efficiency, accuracy, and speed which has revolutionalized the manner in which business is conducted. An important concept that has risen with the continued usage of computers is that of information systems and various applications of the same have been implemented.
This paper shall summarize and analyze the process that should be followed to select and acquire a healthcare information system. An analysis of how organizational goals affect the selection and acquisition processes of the same shall be offered, and the impact of the stakeholders to the selection process addressed. This shall be in a bid to provide a comprehensive report regarding the factors that should be considered during the selection process of an information system.
Information systems in healthcare: a brief overview
Understanding what an information system entails is the most important step that an organization may undertake before installing the preferred application. Eley (2005, n.p) defines an information system as: “the means by which people and organizations utilizing technologies, gather, process, store, use and, disseminate information. Failure to understand the needs of the organization may invariably lead to the selection and acquisition of the wrong information system, thereby leading to the subsequent failure of key operations within the organization.
The process of selecting and acquiring an information system
As Xu, Liu & Jones (2008) reiterate, there must be a measure by which the relative success of a particular system has to be evaluated by. Key attributes include: quality of information, system quality, individual and, organizational impacts. By contrasting the score that each application acquires the management is able to compare the success of the different information systems.
Step 1: project support and commitment
In any business, the level of commitment exhibited by the management and staff of great importance towards the success of any given project. As such, senior management must duly consider the financial and staffing resources needed to “define requirements, identify potential vendors, evaluate products, and implement the new system (Xu, Liu & Jones, 2008, p. 287).” In this stage, the project and steering committee are selected in a bid to guide the project to its successful completion. Establishing these committees guarantees the commitment and support that is needed to successfully select and implement the proposed information system.
Step 2: requirement definition
In this stage, the project team is expected to identify what is needed (functional requirements) to efficiently support the organizational operations. It should be noted that an information system should not be viewed as a resolve to inefficiencies in the current practices but as a tool to help an organization achieve set organizational and operational goals. As such, the main purpose of this stage is to accurately gather and analyze all operations in a bid to determine their needs.
Step 3: Request for Information (RFI) and Request for Proposal (RFP) development
Eley (2005) defines an RFI as a document used to gather information from vendors. The document is designed to collect general information regarding the systems and helps the project team in deciding whether an RFP should be sent to a particular vendor. On the other hand, an RFP is a document designed to gather more specific details on a given information system. This document gives the purchaser exact specifications of the system that the vendor proposes. In addition, it has contractual information that helps simplify interactions between the vendors and the project team.
Step 4: Determining the Selection Process and selection criteria
This stage ensures that there is a fair evaluation process and adequate documentation of the selection process utilized to choose the appropriate vendor. A screening team is used to identify those vendors that meet the minimum response requirements as well as the proposals that comply with the RFP mandates.
Step 5: selection process
In this step, a selection methodology is identified and used to choose the vendor(s) that best meet the project requirements. It is a labor-intensive and time-consuming process that requires specific documentation and impartial judgments from the evaluation team. In this stage, the evaluation teams read and grade the proposals in relation to their ability to satisfy the stipulated requirements. Issues and concerns about the systems are drafted and forwarded to the vendors who later address them during the demonstration phase.
How the organization’s goals drive the selection of an information system
In the health sector, information systems have been documented as being among the core investments made by various health care providers. This is because some of the projects carried out through these systems are of great importance to the survival and smooth running of such organizations. Organizational goals play a pivotal role in the selection process. They help in identifying the short and long term needs of the organization. In addition, they define the resources (financial, human and technological) required to achieve the set objectives. As such, the information system selected can be chosen on the basis of the requirements needed to achieve the set goals.
The roles each of the organization’s stakeholders play in the selection and acquisition process
There are four participant groups that should be constituted if full commitment to the project is to prevail. They are;
- core workgroup (consists of key personnel involved and dedicated in all stages of the project);
- steering committee (diverse stakeholders that officially approves the project’s decisions by reviewing the issues, hurdles and concerns of the project);
- content expert workgroup (responsible for monitoring specific components of the system all the while ensuring that individuals involved work towards perfecting the system’s outcome) and;
- stakeholder communication groups (quasi partners that are constantly updated on the project’s progress).
This report set out to summarize and perform a critical analysis of the various aspects that should be considered during the selection and acquisition process of an information system. The relevance of these systems in a business setting has been articulated and clear guidelines on their implementation provided. If the recommendations made in this report are followed, healthcare organizations will be able to efficiently select information systems that are in line with their set goals all the while maintaining high levels of commitment and support from their stakeholders and staff. This will at the end improve on efficiency, accuracy and quality of service to all.
Eley, D. (2005). Strategies for selecting a behavioral health information system. Web.
Xu, W., Liu, X., & Jones, J. (2008). A new approach to decision-making with key constraint and its application in enterprise information systems. Enterprise Information Systems, 2(3), 287 – 308.