Indian-origin researchers say IT outsourcing can uplift care at rural hospitals

October 24th, 2008 - 12:27 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, October (ANI): A team of Indian-origin researchers in Penn State’’s College of Information Sciences and Technology (IST) says that small hospitals in rural areas can provide patients with the benefits of modern equipment and technology by sharing an IT infrastructure with larger hospitals in the same geographic area.
Assistant Professor Madhu Reddy, Associate Professor Sandeep Purao, and graduate student Mary Kelly conducted interviews with administrators at a regional hospital and three small, rural hospitals in central Pennsylvania.
The researchers said that the three smaller hospitals relied on the regional hospital to manage such things as software, laboratory information, and technical support.
Reporting their findings in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association, the team said that the smaller hospitals saw financial savings from the partnership, and also benefited from the shared IT staff and its experience.
“The most prominent financial benefit for the rural hospitals was the ability to afford a comprehensive IT infrastructure at a relatively low price. For instance, the rural hospitals only pay a percentage of the hardware dedicated to their needs if the regional hospital buys a new hard drive, the rural hospitals will only be charged for the percentage of the hard drive they use,” Reddy said.
The regional hospital did not profit from sharing its services, but the smaller hospitals did take on costs involved with the partnership, and helped pay for the additional staffing required to make the relationship possible.
The one problem associated with the outsourcing system was the perception among the smaller hospitals that their customer service requests were sometimes not a high priority for the regional hospital’’s IT staff, said the researchers.
“They believed a traditional vendor would want to meet their needs in order to retain their business, but that was not always the case in the partnership. However, as the partnership evolved over time, they were able to overcome this challenge,” Reddy said.
The researchers want to continue this research by organizing a larger case study, which will examine rural/regional hospital IT relationships throughout Pennsylvania.
Their aim is to determine whether such a relationship can have long-term benefits for rural hospitals across the state and the country. (ANI)

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