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Hospital Information Systems Cost Centers

Want to automate the hospital?

First, it depends on how big is the hospital. HIS are expensive and unless the hospital is big enough to generate revenues, a full HIS is not advisable. Having said that, there is benefit for HIS — it’s just that you have to make sure you lay down the HIS in modules (or components) which are affordable to the hospital and that the hospital is able to recoup expenses quickly through efficiencies experienced with automation.

There are at least four cost centers in hospital information systems:

  1. project management
  2. customization
  3. implementation
  4. maintenance

Project management – the formation of a team (internal with or without external consultants) to see the project from beginning to maintenance mode

Customization – the effort of customizing the software to fit the needs of the hospital

Implementation – the cost of getting the health staff to use the system

Maintenance – the cost of making sure the system is always available and accessible to the staff

I didn’t mention software license as a cost center because I am presuming the hospitals will be using Free and Open Source Software such as OpenMRS. If the hospital insists on proprietary systems, they have to factor in that cost between 1. Project management and 2. Customization. Watch out if you take this (proprietary) option — make sure you have enough funds to carry you through to Implementation and Maintenance.

Better to use FOSS first (and fail) than to use proprietary (and fail). Project management teams that fail after a FOSS implementation will appreciate greatly the lessons they get from the FOSS system. If they decide to opt for a proprietary sytem after a failed FOSS solution, that would then be acceptable. But opting proprietary solutions first is high risk because the ‘education’ of the project management team has still not happened.

The education of the project management team is a good investment for the hospital but it often comes from the scars of a failed implementation. Why pay for proprietary licenses when the project management team is not yet ‘battle-scarred’? PM teams can get the scars with FOSS at a cost the hospital can afford. Put your money in the right place.

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