Technology: IT in the medical field / Outsourcing in IT
Cedars-Sinai Doctors Cling to Pen and Paper
Computers are becoming an integral element in our daily lives, and the medical field is not an exception. This is because of their ability to store enormous amounts of data and fast information processing capabilities and intelligence (Bansal, 2004). Computers play an integral role in medical operations ranging from aiding complex medical operations to simple procedures such as file and record keeping. Ceci Connolly notes a typical case in Los Angeles whereby Cedar-Sinai doctors are clinging to the traditional pen and paper to undertake their daily operations at the hospital. The effectiveness of computing in medical applications depends on the transition strategies, and effective and appropriate training concerning the application of computers in medicine (Lele, 2005). This is evident by the case of the confused physician; it can be argued that his frustrations with the system are due to inappropriate training and implementation of the computer system at the hospital. Computer-aided healthcare is one of the most important applications of computer systems that seek to eliminate human errors associated with the conventional pen and paper approaches to medicine. The significant challenge in integrating Information Technology with medicine is that it requires gradual transition in order to avoid costly mistakes as seen in the case of Cedars-Sinai doctors.
Computers are supposed to be used as a tool for reducing the costly errors, enhancing patient safety and quality of the medical procedures. One of the most significant ways that computer systems ensure the above is through providing a framework for electronic storage of patient’s data and other related information such as the patient’s family history (Roderick, 2007). In addition, computer systems can be used in keeping track of patient’s prescription and information relating to billing. The computer system can query the medical database concerning the allowable and non-allowable medical prescriptions concerning a patient’s state. Through this, computers can avoid costly errors in medicine such as erroneous prescriptions. In comparison to the traditional pen and paper system, a doctor is more likely to make errors that may otherwise turn to be costly on the patient’s life due to wrong prescriptions. This implies that computer-based healthcare is more productive and effective compared to the conventional pen and paper system deployed in most hospitals in the present times. Nurses can use computer systems to track and analyze test results by comparison with the medical database (Roderick, 2007).
The field of medicine consists of a wide knowledge base. Computers systems are one of the most effective means of storing this knowledge and providing instant access to the information compared to the manual storage system, whereby data storage is paper-based. Computer applications in medicine stretch beyond just storage of patient’s data and tracking of prescription records. Other medical applications of computers in medicine include application software that can be used in the diagnosis of patients provided the symptoms are fed to the system, such as the DiagnosisPro. Recent development saw computer systems aid in carrying out surgical operations and facilitating medical imaging processes such as X-rays (Bansal, 2004). In fact, a large number of medical equipments used to monitor patient progress used in hospitals are computer-based. This denotes the significance of computer technologies in medicine. Time constraints should not serve as an excuse at the expense of costly errors associated with the conventional medical practices. Some of the unmentioned advantages in the article associated with implementation of IT in medicine in the article are that it offers faster communication between the medical practitioner and the patient. In addition, it facilitates communication between the various medical practitioners concerning the recent practises in medicine. This enhances the efficiency of doctors when administering to patients (Roderick, 2007).
Despite the effectiveness of computer-aided healthcare, there are significant constraints associated with its implementation. The first constraint that may jeopardize its effectiveness is that it requires a systematic and effective transition from the conventional paper based records to electronic medical records. Systematic transition entails including every medical personnel during the implementation of the system in order to combat the difficulties and frustrations that they may encounter during early usage of information technology in medicine (Bansal, 2004). The transition from a free environment to a more controlled working environment is one of the significant constraints associated with implementation of electronic medical practices; implying it changes the way medical personnel interacts with others and the system itself. Another constraint associated with electronic medicine is time factors. Medical personnel claim that the pen and paper is faster in comparison to several clicks involved in data entry in order to indicate information relating to the patients data (Roderick, 2007). In addition, computer systems are susceptible to bugs. The availability of bugs in computers used in medicine can translate to undesired costly results such as wrong prescriptions (Lele, 2005).
In conclusion, it cannot be argued yet that the implementation of computer systems in medicine is a risky venture. The challenge occurs in the effectiveness of the implementation of transition procedures through effective training of the medical personnel and deploying the system in a manner that it does not hinder the effectiveness of medical procedures such as time constraints and eliminating limitations that may hinder creativity. An analysis of the advantages of computerised approach to medicine with the conventional paper based medicine reveals that implementing IT in computers is one of the ways of ensuring patient safety and doctor productivity by eliminating possibility of errors due to its controlled environment (Roderick, 2007).
Three reasons why more outsourcing is inevitable
Outsourcing refers to the process of contracting to a third party or an external provider to perform an in-house business task. This implies that a contractual agreement exists between two organizations that entail the barter of services and money (Burkholder, 2006). A growing trend in outsourcing that is raising more concerns is the off shore outsourcing, whereby organizations outsource beyond borders. The subject of outsourcing has been under contentious criticism regarding its effectiveness and drawbacks to business organizations. In the present business environment, it is almost impossible for a business enterprise to meet all its needs by itself, the viable solution that may seem appropriate at that instant is outsourcing. Although there are other strategies such as employee training, they are only effective in the long terms and come with high implementation costs, and have no guarantee that the Return on Investments is worth the undertaking. Business enterprises may outsource for several reasons depending the urgency of the looming crisis. Irrespective of the approach to outsourcing, the underlying causes behind outsourcing are universal to any business enterprise. Despite the disadvantages associated with outsourcing such as quality issues, language barriers, competing problems, and management challenges, it is evident that outsourcing is inevitable for the three prime reasons outlined in the article (Verhoef & Wijers, 2009).
The first prime reason why outsourcing is inevitable is the reducing number of expertise in Information Systems, Management Information Systems, Computer Science, and Computer Engineering disciplines. These disciplines play a significant role in the execution of core business functions, implying that their services are always on demand. In addition, technological changes require constant availability of technologists for its implementation. The challenge that many business enterprises face is the lack of availability of technical expertise to aid in the implementation of technology infrastructures to aid in the execution of business process. It is increasingly becoming evident that businesses need to adopt recent technological trends in order to upbeat the current business challenges associated with operation and management of business functions. The increasing need to adopt up to date technological infrastructures and the lack of availability of such expertise results to an increase in the demand for such services. In addition, many business enterprises put much emphasis on the core functions of the business, which may be technological infrastructure, investments or human resource (Engardio, 2006). For the case involving technological infrastructures, companies may require outsourcing their IT support to companies that are more specialized in IT in order to facilitate business efficiency. The present state of affairs makes outsourcing of IT support services a key requirement for existence of business enterprises. The limited number of IT increases their demand, as a result, the increasing preference to work on contractual basis rather than on a full time basis to a particular company. Despite the few number of IT professionals, there are other alternatives to outsourcing such as embarking on employee training, which is more effective in the long term (Verhoef & Wijers, 2009).
The second prime reason why more outsourcing is inevitable is due to standardization and commoditization in the IT sector. The IT industry is embracing standardization by providing a framework that facilitates the integration of services through the Service Oriented Architectures and Web Services. A web service is one of the elements of a web server, which an end-user on the client side can call using http requests. A web service can be defined as an application that can be accessed using standard web communication protocols such as HTTP, Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP) and SNMP. Commoditization refers to the process of deploying the concept of universality during the execution of business processes and IT support services, and the development of application services (Verhoef & Wijers, 2009). Vendor consolidation has played a significant role in ensuring standardization and commoditization. This implies that Service Oriented Architectures will have an impact on software development methodologies and licensing through decentralization of software components. This means that businesses can have access to software that were only accessible to high end corporations, thereby levelling the play ground and proving an opportunity for outsourcing companies that will have specialized in the new computing architectures. Vendor consolidation is one of the key driving factors behind outsourcing of IT support by large corporations since it provides an avenue through which outsource companies can focus on application development and integration into the new architecture (Burkholder, 2006).
Another principal reason that makes outsourcing a key requirement for business enterprises is the decreasing adoption of corporate computing. This is due to increasing cases of leasing applications on a limited timeframe rather than developing application software and providing an in-house support. Software developers are currently focusing on utility computing whereby billing is based on usage. Atypical example of this scenario is the increasing implementation of cloud computing architectures, whereby cloud data centres lease applications to companies and billing is done using the volume of data transferred and application usage within a given period. Utility computing implies that the IT infrastructure is based on a service-centric approach and is self-managed by the application vendor. A dynamic computing infrastructure ensures that there are high levels of computing reliability and less redundancy; this implies that the cloud computing data centers have the capability to respond quickly to the computing needs of its customers therefore facilitating IT staff to focus on key business needs. The effectiveness associated leasing applications is one of the key driving factors behind the end of corporate computing and the increasing embracement of utility computing, thereby compelling corporations to adopt outsourcing as a means of ensuring business efficiency (Engardio, 2006).
Outsourcing is not usually the ultimate solution for companies to have access to specialized expertise. A feasible alternative to outsourcing is to take fresh technology graduates and train them in accordance with the company’s technology requirements. Training graduates is a cost effective strategy since graduates salaries are lower compared to the experienced expertise that are currently available. Graduate training is an effective approach since it is tailored towards achieving specific company requirements. Another alternative to outsourcing is in-house and apprentice training. In-house and apprentice training aims at nurturing the expertise of the trainees in accordance with technology requirements of the organization. In addition, in-house training provides an opportunity through which the company can customize the training to meet the organization’s requirements.
In conclusion, outsourcing is increasing becoming an important business strategy that business enterprises are deploying in order to foster cost restructuring, transfer risks, and provide means of accessing expertise that is unavailable in-house or might take more time to develop in-house. In addition, outsourcing provides an avenue for quality improvement through adoption of new Service Level Agreements (SLAs) and product innovation (Engardio, 2006). The most underlying reason why outsourcing is becoming an inevitable business concept is due to the limited number of technologists required to implement the new technological infrastructures aimed at fostering business efficiency. However, in cases where the alternatives are feasible, a business enterprise should put into consideration such alternatives before embarking on outsourcing.
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Lele, D. (2005). Computers In Medicine: Progress In Medical Informatics. New Delhi: Tata
Roderick, F. (2007). The Future of Tomorrow: How Technology, Medicine, Computers, and
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Verhoef, D., & Wijers, G. (2009). IT Outsourcing: Contracting the Partner. New York: Van