The Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society in June will launch a Web-accessible database of statistics for making decisions on information technology and managing IT departments at hospitals.
Its HIMSS Solutions Toolkit will provide information about IT products and services, the extent of their use in the healthcare marketplace and what customers have to say about them. A licensing arrangement with the American Hospital Association will permit HIMSS to categorize and sort information according to the demographic information the AHA gathers each year on the nation's hospitals.
The project, a year in the making, represents a shift beyond the traditional HIMSS focus on education sessions for members and convention sponsorship, said Stephen Lieber, president and chief executive officer. The association will spend $1 million over three years on data acquisition, programming and validation of the information aggregated from participating information companies, he said.
"We used to rent a hall and see who came," said Lieber, who took over two years ago as head of HIMSS. "A fundamental role of an association is to be the most knowledgeable source about the field that it represents."
A "starter set" of high-level national data will be available free on the HIMSS Web site; a basic level of more segmented information will be free to HIMSS members, fee-based for others. Beyond a certain level, access will be by subscription.
For example, anyone will be able to find out the total number of installations for a particular vendor's IT systems, but as inquiries narrow in on geographic areas or a description of the product's features, the answers might require HIMSS membership or a database subscription.
The four information companies under contract will supply only a portion of their total data to the HIMSS project, and customers who want more will be directed to those companies for a separate deal, Lieber said.
Those companies are: Gartner, a Stamford, Conn.-based IT research and advisory firm, for product profiles and comparison reports; Sheldon I. Dorenfest & Associates, a Chicago-based consulting and market-data firm, for reports on where vendor products are being installed in provider facilities; KLAS Enterprises, an Alpine, Utah-based company, for ratings on product performance gathered from users; and Solucient, an Evanston, Ill.-based information company, for data from about 300 hospitals on IT department operating statistics such as budgets and staffing.
HIMSS will use the Solucient information as a starting point to ramp up its own initiative to collect data on IT departments of all U.S. hospitals, Lieber said.
The association plans to hire a sales staff for subscription sales, and it projects the venture will break even on operations in two years. It expects total payback on the information service's startup and operational costs in four years, he said.