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Information Systems for Healthcare Management

Of the many enterprises that rely on information systems to attain their objectives, healthcare management is the most challenging and costly. The combination of highly complex application, systems and platform trade-offs, along with the need for continual government compliance makes information systems in healthcare one of the most difficult areas to attain best practices in of any IT area (Le Rouge, De Leo, 2010). The intent of this analysis is to evaluate the primary causes of information management (IM) or information technologies (IT) project failures and recommend three best practices that could guide organizations past these failures in the future. Second, determining the best approach to use project metrics and portfolio management to facilities or enable greater levels of IT governance as well. Third, this analysis will conclude with an analysis of the various types of government intervention occurring into healthcare today and debate how this hampers and slows down innovation and market growth.

Analysis of Healthcare IT Project Failures And Best Practices Recovery

There are a multitude of factors that lead to project failures in healthcare management, from lack of project direction and clarity of goals to lack of consistent system and application plans. The most common factor that leads to a healthcare IT project failure however is a lack of commitment and support for the project from the senior management of an organization (Le Rouge, De Leo, 2010). One of the foundational aspects of effective enterprise-wide IT change is having the senior management of any firm lead through example, showing the entire organization how they need to change in order for IM or IT systems to succeed (Le Rouge, De Leo, 2010). When an organization has this level of support from senior management, they can quickly attain complex, challenging objectives as everyone seeks to emulate the leader's behavior and excel. This ability of a leader of any healthcare management program to guide change effectively through the use of their own transformational leadership skills can even overcome scope complexity and a lack of clarity around secondary metrics of performance (Austin, Boxerman, 2008). Yet when a project lacks this level of support from a senior management team, it quickly degenerates and begins to fall apart over time. A transformational leader however can keep a complex project moving forward and avert its unraveling due to a lack of a consistent, unified focus.

The second most cited reason for healthcare management IT projects failing are the lack of clarity surrounding project goals and objectives, and a lack of consistent measure of performance (Gough, 2001). Often project scope will begin to drift over time on projects when there is a lack of clear, well-defined objectives and the constraints of the project are not well-defined (Austin, Boxerman, 2008). Project goals and objectives that don't reflect the realities of time, cost and resource constraints of an enterprise actually increase the speed of a project failing over time as well (Wills, Sarnikar, El-Gayar, Deokar, 2010). Project goals and objectives that lack a clarity and focus are the second leading cause of IT failures in healthcare management, with lack of recognition for time, cost, and resource constraints acting as accelerators of decline (Helfert, 2009).

A third major factor that leads to IT project failures in healthcare management is lack of consistent project management practices in how analytics, key performance indicators (KPIs) and metrics are used long-term over a projects' lifetime (Helfert, 2009). Too often the analytics, KPIs and metrics used in complex IT projects in healthcare management are misaligned to the long-term objectives of the enterprise (Austin, Boxerman, 2008). With the lack of consistency and coherence of one series of project objectives to the broader requirements of the enterprise, the project tends to become a lower priority and eventually fails (Mahmoud, Rice, 1998).

To avert these three leading causes of healthcare management IT project failure, the following three best practices are needed. First, there needs to be a very clear understanding of how the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Chief Operating Officer (COO) and Chief Information Officer (CIO) all must be in agreement as to the goals and objectives of the projects (Lang, 2003). This alignment of the three core roles of any healthcare management provider is critical to ensure the entire organization sees value in the sacrifices needed to ensure long-term changes to the organization, its processes, systems and approaches to work are changed successfully (Liu, 2007). The second best practice that healthcare management providers need to rely on is greater orchestration of time, resource and cost constraint optimization across the entire scope of an IT project (Mahmoud, Rice, 1998). The best practice of balancing the time, resources and costs is critical for the fulfillment of complex and compliance-driven IT management in healthcare management initiatives over the long-term (Gough, 2001). This balancing of time, resources and costs is essential for making the overall project successful across the many departments and divisions of a healthcare management provider (Austin, Boxerman, 2008). IT projects that continually evaluate how they are progressing relative to these three core components of successful project management are also more adept at managing quality review and improvement cycles in quicker bursts (Mahmoud, Rice, 1998).

The third best practice of managing IT projects in healthcare management is to define a series of consistent analytics, KPIs and metrics of performance that increase collaboration across diverse business units (Mahmoud, Rice, 1998). This best practice also is often used to manage the constraints of time, resources and costs to ensure they stay aligned to long-term objectives (Helfert, 2009). The need for creating a stable foundation of analytics, KPIs and metrics of performance is also essential for navigating a healthcare management IT system through the many challenges inherent in introducing and fine-tuning a system to an organization's needs (Austin, Boxerman, 2008). This best practice also has significant implications for the governance of projects as well, which are discussed in the next section of this analysis.

Using Project Metrics and Portfolio Management

The reliance on project metrics and portfolio management are critical to sustainable, scalable and reliable governance frameworks and strategies being put into place for healthcare management IT projects. The reliance on metrics and portfolio management to define the baseline of performance for a given healthcare management IT project is essential for mitigating scope creep and keeping the project centered on its initial goals and objectives (Le Rouge, De Leo, 2010). Governance must also encompass metrics showing continual adoption of a healthcare management IT system, including the long-term process- and system-related objectives are attained (Austin, Boxerman, 2008). The reliance on governance-based frameworks can also determine how agile, flexible and scalable a given healthcare management system is today (Liu, 2007) and will be in the future despite market and industry turbulence (Austin, Boxerman, 2008). Finally, best practices in project metrics and portfolio management will always re-center the functioning of the system to the core needs and requirements of the patients and their evolving needs, and this ensures the system stays relevant over time (Austin, Boxerman, 2008).

Assessment of Government Intervention Into Healthcare

For all the best intentions, federal and state governments get involved in healthcare, yet often create more confusion and chaos than if they had just stayed away. The era of socialized medicine and the need for making care available to as many citizens in the U.S. As possible will occur in the next several years through new care programs. Yet the costs of these programs and the complexity of managing them are exceptionally difficult. When a government attempts to shift the demand curve for healthcare services through artificial means, there is often inflationary pricing or a drastic reduction in the quality or quantity of services available (Wills, Sarnikar, El-Gayar, Deokar, 2010). In short, attempting to manage the market dynamics of healthcare through legislative means can…[continue]

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