Volume 16 - Issue 2, 2016 - Best Practice

IT Outsourcing: The View From the Top

Black Book Market Research recently ‏released insightful figures on attitudes ‏toward IT outsourcing in healthcare. To ‏remain solvent and technologically advanced ‏Black Book said hospital executives realise ‏they need to “evaluate and leverage next ‏generation information and financial systems ‏as an outsourced service” (Black Book, 2015). ‏The company found 73 percent of all ‏surveyed hospitals and health systems ‏over 300 beds were looking externally for ‏technology solutions while 81 percent of ‏provider organisations under 300 beds ‏planned to prioritise complex IT outsourcing.


In terms of why outsourcing failed in the past, 606 former and current users of IT outsourcing solutions offered the following reasons – which can inform future decisions:


  • Outsourced IT services that should have stayed within the organisation;
  • Selected the incorrect vendor for the job;
  • Neglected to realise the full costs of outsourcing;
  • Permitted the outsourced service to get out of control;
  • Disregarded employee and/or community concerns about outsourcing/offshoring;
  • Wrote ineffective statements of work for the services outsourced;
  • Failed to strategise an exit procedure before terminating the outsourcing contract;
  • Unrealistic expectations;
  • Lack of best practices for hospital IT outsourcing established;
  • Did not monitor the performance of the contracted outsourcer. (Black Book, 2015).


The result is that going forward hospital executives are now intent on taking the business case ‏for outsourcing into their own hands rather than leaving it to the vendor and ensuring that staff ‏and outsourced services work well together is also of paramount concern.

HealthManagement.org spoke to hospital leaders and IT experts for their views on outsourcing.

“For achieving EMRAM Stage 7 we have some criteria that look ‏at the use of Clinical Analytics and Business Intelligence (BI) within ‏the hospital. Those criteria include things like the availability of an ‏analytics strategy, the link of clinical activities to financial outcomes, ‏examples of how BI has helped to improve clinical, organisational ‏or financial performance. However, we do not systematically check ‏if hospitals outsource these activities – meaning the data mining ‏or storage part in it. With the rise of cloud-based solutions it may ‏well be that also Big Data activities are going to be more and more ‏outsourced, but it certainly depends on the definition of what part of ‏Big Data activity, and also what outsourcing means in that context. ‏For example is an EMR vendor who provides a web-based solution ‏already “outsourcing?”

HIMSS Analytics


“We have outsourcing for some IT functions. In terms of Big Data ‏or more specific data analysis in areas like pharmacy and quality indicators ‏we have outsourcing that makes the analysis, compares the ‏results with the benchmark and recommends some strategies. The ‏benefits of outsourcing are based on sharing some expert resources ‏with other companies. The decision about the vendor is complex ‏because it depends on multiple factors.”

Vicent Moncho, CIO of EMRAM Stage 7 ‏hospital Marina Salud in Spain


“The most important step in the process of outsourcing involves ‏conducting thorough market research in order to choose the best ‏organisation from among the key players in the region, but usually ‏outsourcing in the healthcare sector is out of question. For example, ‏Zulekha Hospital is accredited by Joint Commission International ‏(JCI) and, among other healthcare governance standards we meet, ‏JCI certification obliges us to make patients’ confidentiality and ‏safe data management our top priority. If a medical entity needs to ‏outsource due to lack of internal resources, they must evaluate the ‏risks involved beforehand and assess both flexibility and accessibility ‏of tools being offered to medical professionals as well as other ‏stakeholders. Every management strategy must aim to reduce costs, ‏improve insights, and optimise growth, but never risk compromising ‏patients’ confidentiality.”

Taher Shams, Managing Director, Zulekha Hospital, ‏UAE


“Today, we are not effectively using all already existing data for ‏health and there is a lot we could learn from other fields where text ‏and data-mining tools are in use and represent an important driver ‏for innovation. Of course, applicable legislation on data protection ‏must be observed.”

Policy Officer Terje Peetso, DG Connect, European ‏Commission on data security, a critical ‏consideration in IT outsourcing



Black Book (2015) Providers to Adopt IT Outsourcing Solutions in 2016 as More Hospitals and Physician Practices Slide Deeper Into Financial Uncertainty. [Accessed: 13 May, 2016] Available ‏from http://www.blackbookmarketresearch.com/providers-to-adopt-it-outsourcing-solutions-in-2016-as-more-hospitals-and/ ‏

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