Off-the-Shelf or Home grown HIMS

 

There has been an ongoing debate revolving around whether a hospital should develop a home grown integrated HIMS (hospital information management system) and EMR (electronic medical record) system or purchase an off-the-shelf software platform.

There are several factors to determine what best suits your Hospital’s needs.

  • Is the hospital too small and workflow very simple that implementing an off-the-shelf platform be overkill?
  • Is the workflow to complex that implementing an off-the-shelf product will need lot of customization?
  • Does Hospital have expertise and talent in house available to build their own system and keep updated over period of time?
  • Have you done the Cost benefit analysis for the costs required for internal development and upkeep of a custom system versus the initial and ongoing license and integration fees of a commercial platform?

The above questions regularly influence IT decisions on how to best implement a variety of applications, like CRM, ERP, Asset Management etc. besides HIMS & ERP and, in these instances, the chosen path still varies greatly depending on the answers to the above questions. However, looking at today’s ever-changing and increasingly integrated healthcare system, an off-the-shelf HIMS system is almost always going to be the best bet for a hospital. There are a number of reasons for this shared belief. For example:

 

  • Developing a HIMS system from scratch will require a huge amount of time, effort, and investment for the initial deployment. Furthermore, as the healthcare industry moves to a newer concepts like EMR, Cloud based solutions, Mobile apps, Artificial Intelligence etc., you'll need to have the internal expertise, bandwidth, and funds to adhere to emerging standards and protocols involving the sharing of health data. Leading HIMS and EMR system vendors have R&D funding available to accommodate these changes. Most hospitals don't. It therefore becomes a question of the TCO (total cost of ownership) and ROI. If third party systems already exist in the market that can be customized to meet the needs of most hospitals, why reinvent a very expensive wheel by developing a system from scratch?
  • A hospital should focus its efforts on its core business of caring for patients and not on developing IT solutions. A software vendor's livelihood is built around enhancing and updating its software platforms based on the input of hundreds or even thousands of hospitals. This expertise, focus, and funding should arguably make them more capable of developing solutions that adapt to and satisfy the healthcare industry's changing needs. With this in mind, off-the-shelf systems will likely be more agile in meeting the interoperability and privacy requirements of the healthcare market.