Health Information Technology Strategic Planning Alignment in Saudi Hospitals: A Historical Perspective

Majid ALTUWAIJRI

Abstract


Background: The healthcare industry, not only in Saudi Arabia and the Middle East but also worldwide, has become increasingly reliant upon information and communication technology in order to achieve certain objectives such as enhancing the quality of healthcare and reducing the time and cost for healthcare delivery. To encourage efforts in this field, a Middle East excellence award in the use of electronic health was introduced in the Arab Health conference, held in Dubai, in 2010. The National Guard Health Affairs (NGHA), Saudi Arabia, was the winner of this award.
Objective: To closely examine the work of the NGHA in the area of Health information technology that led to its excellence award recognition. The article reviews and summarizes the major information technology (IT) projects within NGHA during the study period (January 1998- November 2011). This represents more than thirteen years of data and knowledge. The study pays a special attention to the IT strategic plan developed in 1999 and examines how the strategic plan was followed.
Methods: An action case study approach was used in this study due to the fact that the researcher was a participant in the project management group of all IT projects at NGHA during the study period. Data collection methods included: semi-structured interviews, meeting minutes, and external reviews. The researcher used these documents as a reference to examine how closely the IT strategic plan was followed. The researcher mapped each of the major IT project within NGHA with one strategic goal of the IT strategic plan.
Results: The research includes ten key lessons in the following areas: IT vision, IT projects risks, IT departments’ roles, IT infrastructure, project management, adequate training, systems integration, healthcare analytics, political situation impacts, and the fit between international solutions and local requirements.
Conclusion: In spite of the potential benefits that health IT offers to the healthcare industry, the failure rate in health IT-related projects are extremely high. The lessons learned in the implementation of such projects must be shared across all of healthcare, both locally and internationally, so that success can be replicated and failures avoided.

Keywords


E-Health; Health Information Technology; IT strategic planning; Strategies Alignment; Health Information systems; and Health Studies.

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