Painless HIS Selection
Mar 25, 2015
by Dr. Jon Elion

Whether selecting and adapting an inpatient or an outpatient clinical information system, a little “homework” can go a long way towards helping to ease the pains of adoption:

  • Start by carefully defining your current information environment, followed by a complete description of the functionality that you want (now and in the future). List all systems that create information, and all stakeholders that use it. Then you can start looking and vendors, making sure that their systems meet your scenario.
  • As you move to the all-electronic medical record, decide how you will handle the components that are still paper-based. Be wary of a “hybrid” environment (part electronic, part paper), as the paper components can be overlooked. Even if only 5% of your enterprise clinical information is paper-based, you may be in a position where it gets overlooked!
  • Decided if (and how) you need to migrate or access “legacy” data.
  • Define the interfacing and data needs of each “external” component in the system, remembering that there are several possible strategies:
    • Standalone (no integration)
    • File-based uploads of patient demographics information
    • Data delivered by HL7 messages
    • Unstructured data (for example, displayable reports)returned via HL7 or other means
    • Structured data returned via HL7
    • Direct application integration (Patient-Synchronized Applications, portal-Savvy applets, direct application plug-ins)
    • Identify the information that needs to flow between the inpatient and outpatient settings and how that will happen. This includes connectivity with referring physicians and acquiring data from outside testing facilities.

Do not count on the clinical information system to magically give you the desired information and workflow; it is just a means to the end. Identify thoroughly where you are headed, then make sure that the software will get you there!

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