Causes of Healthcare Information Systems Failure

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Failures in healthcare information systems come at a huge price. Finding out the root cause of failure will guide healthcare institutions into choosing the right technology. Besides, the institutions will be able to implement information systems in a way that will minimize failures. There are various causes of failures in healthcare information systems. The first cause is the lack of proper feasibility study on areas such as impact of the new systems in a healthcare institution. Often than not, stakeholders in an institution may request for changes of a particular system with a reason to keep following the technology wind in healthcare.

The hospital management should carefully scrutinize the effects of regular and sudden changes in their information systems. The lack of understanding of how to use the available information systems by healthcare staff is another major cause of failure of the systems. A system cannot achieve its desired goals in service delivery if the methods of its utilization are not properly applied. Assumption is yet another cause of failure; once a healthcare facility implements information system there is always the likelihood that some assumptions will be made especially concerning tasks that are not obvious.

As a result, such tasks will pile up with time and when need arises for these tasks to be performed, they raise the costs of running the information systems while also consuming much more time than required. In the mean time, this will create a delay in service delivery. Lack of clear communication by information systems managers is, according to Trevor, yet another reason why information systems in the healthcare sector fail. There should be adequate communication to all stakeholders about any changes made to a system.

In addition, all information pertaining to a particular system should be provided. It is lack of proper communication from the system managers to the users of the system and vice versa that eventually leads to failures in implementation. Sponsors of information systems must frequently be updated on intended changes and continual operations of the systems. Healthy communication among all stakeholders ensures that hitches in a system are identified in time and rectified before the entire system gets to a point of being declared a total failure.

Poor evaluation of the needs and requirements of a healthcare institution will unpredictably cause the failure of a system. This is because an institution is likely to implement a system that runs short of meeting the needs at hand. The system may on the other hand be too exaggerated for the institution therefore costing much more than is necessary. The correct procedure is to first evaluate what a healthcare enterprise requires then plan for the exact information system that best meets the goals of the healthcare institution.

Healthcare systems ought to be developed systematically. Developing information systems fast to achieve quick results will most likely lead to failure of such systems. During developing of information systems, healthcare institutions should not only ensure that they tailor them for the requirements at hand but also that along the course of development, any problems that arise are dealt with head on and immediately. Information systems are bound to fail when probable problems are brushed aside during development.

Lack of proper development of information systems goes hand in hand with lack of allowing enough time to test the systems. The assumption that a system will be effective is likely to lead to failure of systems that are not monitored enough to realize any problems with the system and hence rectify them in time. All information systems should be allowed adequate time to see how effective they are before investing more into the systems. Within this time, a healthcare institution will note any necessary changes and carry them out in time before committing time and resources to a system that might eventually fail.

As noted above, people play a great role in causing the failure of healthcare information systems (Trevor). Whether it is information system managers or clinicians and eve patients, they all contribute to system failures. One of the biggest areas where healthcare institutions go wrong and hence cause failure of their information systems is when they choose to change system personnel in between implementation of a system. It becomes difficult for new personnel to pick up a running system, learn its intricacies and make it succeed.

Healthcare information systems are meant to improve the overall performance in institutions and reduce running costs. The systems will however cost a lot at first and thus they are a great investment. This means that proper business strategy ought to be applied to ensure that healthcare institutions make smart business decisions when developing information systems. Healthcare information systems failures will otherwise occur when an institution rushes to implement information systems without a strategy that insures against losses in the business side of the information systems.

For a healthcare enterprise to determine the most suitable systems that will enhance its overall service delivery, the proper methodology must be applied. Obviously, such a measure will not reduce the cost of implementation (Trevor). However, it will increase the chances of information systems being successful. At the same time, with actual and correct estimates, healthcare institutions will be in a position to negotiate for the best services with information systems sponsors.

Healthcare institutions may decide to change their information systems from time to time in order to integrate those that they believe will meet their goals. In making these changes, there often are conception-reality gaps that lead to failure of the systems (Heeks and Mundy and Salazar). There are three types of gaps that affect information systems. The first is according to Heeks, Mundy & Salazar, is “the rationality-reality gaps”. Though healthcare institutions may interpret information systems rationally, the interpretations may fail to match the actual operational methods of the institutions to result into this kind of gap.

The second type of gap is” the private-public sector gaps”. Public health institutions may often adopt information systems that were designed for the private sector. Since the needs of the two sectors may differ, such systems are inclined to fail. The third gap, “country gaps,” occurs when certain countries apply information systems that were developed for other countries. This is often done without proper consideration of the diversity in healthcare needs of the different countries thus resulting into system failures.

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