This system would be absolutely ideal for the hospital environment as it would answer many of the problems which have plagued the current system. Most importantly, it meets all the requirements set out by the NHS and by the original IS strategy. Disadvantages The costs involved in adopting this strategy is very high and would require much of the annual budget just to initiate the development of the system. The fact that the hospital will need to purchase new machines and software and employ specialists to set up the system would mean that the system could lead to budget cuts in other important areas such as treatment of illnesses and buying expensive equipment such as CAT scan machines etc. Training would be required for the new system, though this may be able to take place online and the dedicated help desk facilities offered by such as system could help get around this.
In addition to this, there would need to be a back up system in place, in case of a failure with the system – a power failure, for example or a computer virus could wreak havoc with the system, this would not be a concern with a system run by a third party. Planning for the Future Regardless of which strategy the hospital decides to implement further, long-term focus will need to be regarded as an essential feature of the “strategic” information system and technology plan (Segars et al, 1998). One of the reasons the original strategy failed was due to the fact that it did not look towards the future but merely to the short term. A rethinking of this strategy could help the hospital decide on a system which would last far longer that one designed to meet current demands only.
Recommendations It is recommended that St Mary’s management look very closely at the costs involved with outsourcing its IS requirements and also investigate further the costs of implementing an E-Business solution. The preferred option for St Mary’s hospital should be to implement an E-Business solution to IS since this allows the greatest amount of control and flexibility out of the two strategies and also would be easily adaptable to future changes. If funding for an E-Business based strategy could not be acquired then outsourcing its IS could provide a suitable solution though care would need to be taken in choosing suppliers and making sure that contracts signed allow for flexibility and that some of the IS system remains under direct control of hospital staff.
The Use of Theory At an initial meeting, the general manager at St Mary’s commented that “using business theories, concepts and frameworks designed predominantly for the private sector have little value when applied to public sector organisations.” This comment is a common misconception made by many managers in the public sector. “Historically, the application of private sector models for Strategic Information Systems Planning (SISP) to the public sector is a controversial issue” (Dufner et al, 2002). It has been shown that there are important differences between public and private sector organisations, especially when it comes to the special requirements of this sector. (Dufner et al, 2002). For example, “economic considerations, while present, are less dominant in the public sector, and IT is placed lower in the hierarchies of public organizations than in the private sector” (Dufner et al, 2002)
In particular, the public sector relies on middle managers to perform strategic planning whereas the private sector relies on top level executives for this, even though input is gathered from those lower in the hierarchy” (Dufner et al, 2002). Other writers have observed that “In the business world, the processes of setting objectives and carrying them out are closely integrated; while in government these processes are loosely coupled” (Rocheleau, 2000). This is obvious in the case of St Mary’s hospital where many systems have been proposed but few have been properly implemented due to the way the government operates being fundamentally difficult to a regular business. Where a regular business needs to change rapidly, the government itself changes so much in short periods of time during elections; this has a negative impact on decision making and has affected St Mary’s on several occasions during the SISP process.
The use of business IS concepts could make a huge difference to the running of St Mary’s if performed in a manner more suited to the task. Other hospital trusts have successfully implemented IS solution through business planning including North Trust Acute Hospital (Waring, 2004) so it can be proved that such implementation of ideas does work, even with the differences between the public and private sectors.
This report makes several conclusions on the case of St Mary’s Hospital. Firstly, the use of SIS planning has been performed poorly in the past and this has led to problems later in the implementation of the systems. There have been several factors out with the control of the hospital which has affected planning, but these should have been thought of before the strategies had been conceived.
The system at St Mary’s has been flawed from the outset. A combination of many factors has stopped a series of systems being implemented on schedule and in many cases these systems have been integral to the whole process. Whilst it seems that the hospital has been able to function properly throughout these problems it must be recognised that by refining the current plan there can be a huge increase in productivity and reduction in costs and time wasted.
The main problems with the original strategies seem to be that the hospital has been too ambitious at the planning stage, ultimately leading to corners being cut and ideas being dropped. There was also no focus in the strategy and the plans were very much aimed at the short term rather than looking to the future. In order to change the SIS use at St Mary’s either an E-Business attitude to the running of the hospital could be adopted (this is the preferred option) or several key parts of the existing.
IS program could be outsourced in order to save money for other hospital processes (this is a good 2nd choice if funding for an E-business style strategy is unavailable), though this strategy would need to be reviewed annually in order to keep up levels of productivity and cost effectiveness Finally, it is clear that SISP frameworks and concepts used in the private sector can be implemented in the public sector effectively – in contrast to the opinions of the general manager of St Mary’s .