When companies make significant strategic decisions, one of the essential tools they use is the SWOT analysis, where the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats are evaluated. Every project should be in line with the company’s vision statement, mission, goals, and objectives. To select a potential project strategic planning plays a key role. To maintain a competitive edge, SWOT analysis assists in coming up with better portfolio decisions (Schwalbe, 2016; Maculley, 2003).
I would like to discuss the Information Management and Technology (IM&T) department of an NHS Hospital Trust. The IM&T department gets several requests for all kinds of software applications from within the hospital that could help facilitate the hospital operations, doctors, and other staff management operations. The IM&T department always uses SWOT analysis to determine if the project has the potential to bring value to the hospital. The top management is in charge of making these big decisions, and SWOT analysis is one of the key elements used by the project managers to provide valuable insight into the project selection process (Schwalbe, 2016).
Following is the SWOT analysis of the IT projects in the hospital.
- Improved patient care: The readily available patient records help the doctors to make better decisions about patient care. The errors are minimized as at the decision point all the required information is available and complete (Goldberg et al., 2002).
- Operations efficiency is high: The inclusion of IT in the hospital operations has increased the efficiency of hospital operations as the paperwork has reduced, day to day activities are automated, waste and duplication of information have been eliminated (Conger and Chiavetta, 2006).
- Investment for IT projects: The hospital uses IT to operate its central admin and clinical systems that include billing, patient data, insurance, human resources, scheduling, staff management, pharmacy, etc. The investment in IT projects ensures that the hospital is on its mission to further improve patient care (Cohen, 2005).
- No system integration: The patient’s treatment procedure involves obtaining information from several systems in a hospital. Currently, these multiple units in the hospital are not integrated, and hence the data from various sources cannot be coordinated. The absence of system integration affects the efficiency and decision making. For instance, if the patient, administration, and financial computer-based applications are integrated, it will result in improved operations (Cohen, 2005).
- IT adoption is slow: The high implementation costs, resistance to adopting new systems, the absence of competition, are some of the main reasons the hospital is slow in adapting to the latest IT technologies (Hough, Chen, & Lin, 2005).
- End-user resistance: End-users have shown resistance in adopting new IT systems. The main reasons have been unfamiliarity with the system; training is required which means extra costs, a threat to their jobs, etc.
- Favourable external market: The grants and funding offered by the government to speed up access to new technology is an excellent opportunity (NHS Accelerator, 2017).
- The Internet: The use of the Internet in the hospital is carving new ways for communication with patient groups, the general public, physicians, employees, etc. and improving the web-based applications (Sternberg, 2004). The use of web portals can offer healthcare services and awareness to patients and their carer (Moody, 2005). The Internet is also redefining the modes of communication for doctors and patients (DeShazo et al., 2005).
- Losing a patient’s trust: The hospital needs to maintain patient trust by utilizing all available means to minimize errors and to make patient healthcare records available at the point of decision. Data availability and accuracy holds significance in the hospital industry, and to maintain a patient’s trust, these need to be functioning appropriately and timely (Kohn et al., 1999).
- Legal compliance: The hospital IT operations are constantly under threats or risk of breaching any data protection law that binds them over patient safety and privacy. The hospital at all times needs to ensure with advancing technology, the patient data stays confidential, and all management/transfer operations comply with the legal standards. Currently, the applicable legislation is the Data Protection Law (2018), GDPR (2018), Health Service (Control of Operations) 2002, to name a few (NHS, 2018).
- High costs: One of the significant obstacles and the reason for the slow adoption of the latest technology in the hospital industry are the high implementation costs, system complexity, end-user resistance to adopting new systems, training for the new technologies (Lopes, 2007).
I would conclude on the note that the healthcare industry faces pressure to advance patient care, implement effective processes, minimize medical errors, and to deliver a secure and safe information management system that is cost-friendly, abides by the legal guidelines set for patient privacy. The mind map of SWOT analysis is depicted in the figure above and the SWOT analysis indicates that IT can transform the healthcare industry.
More investments and funding are needed for the healthcare systems to eradicate medical errors and for efficient operations. Presently, the hospital is using a variety of systems, which makes data communication complex. There is a need for system integration for effective and timely decisions. IT has reduced paperwork and has eliminated duplication; it can be further utilized to link the suitable resources, people, and expertise to obtain maximum healthcare results, enhanced patient care, optimum customer serviced, reduced operational costs, etc. With the new data protection laws being introduced like GDPR, the new IT technologies can be used to ensure patient trust and security are intact (Helms et al., 2008).
Further research is needed to make use of data mining techniques on hospital data, to create cause and effect analysis to minimize different diseases and ailments. Also, the stakeholders should be more actively involved in the implementation procedure, so their resistance to adopting new systems and to any change can be eliminated. The more comfortable and aware they are of the system, the more they will comprehend the value and benefits it brings to the hospital (Helms et al., 2008).
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