Capital budgets at a contingent of 10 leading integrated delivery systems are top-heavy with information systems projects.
The IDNs highlighted in a study by First Consulting Group are spending a higher percentage of capital on computerization, compared with a national average that's already significantly higher than a few years ago.
But spending on information system operations is steady by comparison-cost-conscious and even tight with a buck, compared with national averages.
That's all part of the understanding between the information systems department and executive management: Show a cost-effective operation in return for backing on capital spending, says Tommy Bozeman, director of information systems at North Mississippi Health Services in Tupelo.
"We treat money like it's our own personal money," Bozeman says. North Mississippi historically has spent 1% or less of total revenues on information system operations but is bumping that up a bit to cope with new demands of system integration.
The group of 10 IDNs budgeted an average of 26% of capital on information systems in 1996. A recent industry survey came up with an average of 19% for facilities and systems nationwide in 1996.
The total figure for the group of 10 was influenced, however, by three IDNs that spent more than 30% on information systems. One of those three exceeded 60%.
All three identified themselves as being in the early stages of integrating their operation across settings.
Six other IDNs that considered themselves well on the way to integration were clustered right around the industry average. One IDN that declared itself "totally integrated" nevertheless spent about 40% of total capital on information systems.
The industry survey, released by the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives, also calculated that provider organizations spent 3.6% of total revenues on average to operate their information systems (May 26, p. 14).
But only one of the IDNs in the First Consulting study exceeded the CHIME average, while half of them spent less than 2.5% on information operations.
North Mississippi weighed in at 1.5%, or $7 million per year, which includes the costs of operating numerous data transmission lines from its main Tupelo base to scores of sites up to 60 miles away, Bozeman says.