IT outsourcing could benefit rural hospitals, researchers find

October 23, 2008

Patients expect the most up-to-date equipment and technology at hospitals, regardless of the institution's size or budget. Providing that technology, however, can be difficult for small, rural hospitals that often lack the budget and staffing to make it possible.

A case study conducted by researchers in Penn State's College of Information Sciences and Technology (IST) shows that smaller hospitals may be able to benefit by sharing an IT infrastructure with larger hospitals in the same geographic area.

Madhu Reddy, assistant professor of IST, Sandeep Purao, associate professor of IST, and Mary Kelly, a graduate student, conducted interviews with administrators at a regional hospital and three small, rural hospitals in central Pennsylvania. The three smaller hospitals relied on the regional hospital to manage such things as software, laboratory information and technical support.

The researchers found that the smaller hospitals saw financial savings from the partnership and also benefitted from the shared IT staff and its experience. The group reported their results of the study in a recent issue of the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association.

"The most prominent financial benefit for the rural hospitals was the ability to afford a comprehensive IT infrastructure at a relatively low price," Reddy said. "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."

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.

One of the challenges to this outsourcing system, the researchers found, was a perception among the small hospitals that their customer service requests were sometimes not a high priority for the regional hospital's IT staff.

"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," Reddy said. "However, as the partnership evolved over time, they were able to overcome this challenge."

Reddy said he hopes to continue this research by organizing a larger case study examining rural/regional hospital IT relationships throughout Pennsylvania to determine whether this type of relationship can have long-term benefits for rural hospitals across the state and the country.

Source: Penn State

Explore further: Surgeons may get remote assistance with new 'telementoring' system

Related Stories

Tackling India's snakebite problem

July 28, 2015

Gerry climbs up to the veranda of our tribal longhouse with a snake bag held out in front of him. "Now don't get too excited, but I've just caught a Kaulbacki," he says, looking pleased but exhausted from a long hike and ...

Researcher uses technology to bring power to the people

June 1, 2015

In the beginning, Eric Brewer and Paul Gauthier created Inktomi. And they saw that it was good. In 1996, before anyone spoke the word Google, Brewer and his Berkeley graduate student launched Inktomi to create the first Internet ...

Recommended for you

Internet giants race to faster mobile news apps

October 4, 2015

US tech giants are turning to the news in their competition for mobile users, developing new, faster ways to deliver content, but the benefits for struggling media outlets remain unclear.

Radio frequency 'harvesting' tech unveiled in UK

September 30, 2015

An energy harvesting technology that its developers say will be able to turn ambient radio frequency waves into usable electricity to charge low power devices was unveiled in London on Wednesday.

Professors say US has fallen behind on offshore wind power

September 29, 2015

University of Delaware faculty from the College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment (CEOE), the College of Engineering and the Alfred Lerner School of Business and Economics say that the U.S. has fallen behind in offshore wind ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.