While we know that information technology enables hospital systems to achieve high quality, efficient care, little is known about the range of IT capabilities across public hospitals in California. SNI aims to learn about the range of IT capabilities in its membership in order to assure that public hospitals can take advantage of exciting initiatives and opportunities to improve care delivery through IT advancement. For example, in recent years we’ve seen the formation of regional and statewide Regional Health Information Organizations, such as CalRHIO. Given the population they serve, it is critically important that safety net institutions participate in regional health exchange projects, and an IT needs assessment can help identify the best individuals at public hospitals to do so.
With a grant from the Blue Shield of California, CAPH/SNI partnered with First Consulting Group (FCG), a healthcare consulting firm specializing in information technology strategic planning, and conducted a needs assessment of information technology systems in CAPH member hospitals. The goals of the project were to:
- identify what, how and for what purpose IT systems are currently being used in public hospitals;
- describe how these systems are interfaced and identify where they are not connected;
- describe each hospital system’s IT budgets, including:
- The IT budget as a percent of the total budget
- Allocations within the budget, including (but not limited to) hardware, software, personnel, vendor support, desktop vs. infrastructure, and training
- describe each hospital system’s plans for IT future projects, including timelines and estimated costs; and
- identify the gap, if any, between the hospital’s available resources for IT and the amount needed to fund future IT projects.
Ultimately the hope is to use the survey findings to help improve California public hospital IT systems and improve quality and efficiency. The individual and aggregate data will enable public hospitals to assess their institution’s IT capabilities and needs and benchmark their IT operations against other state and national counterparts. Most importantly, the findings will help identify the total resources needed among member hospitals to upgrade IT systems and improve patient care, and will better enable CAPH to advocate for IT funding.