Defining Standardization in Healthcare Decision Support Systems and Executive Information Systems 

Industry Systems Evaluation

The current trend within the healthcare industry has been and continues to be decision support systems and structural standardization. Fueled by mergers, alliances, business "partnerships", etc. as well as pressures placed on industry by Managed Care Organizations and other purchasers to produce accurate standardized information for comparative analysis, healthcare entities are being forced to consider new technology that not only embraces and delivers standard decision support /executive information systems solutions but also provides these solutions in a manner that remains completely consistent with the movement occurring in the computer industry to provide open systems. No longer are proprietary, vertically integrated systems an option. System diversity is no longer acceptable to industry and, in fact, this diversity of systems problem is being addressed by a myriad of systems integration products to provide a cost effective migration path for the healthcare entity to complete open systems with standardized data

System Standardization

Demand in the market certainly exists for Healthcare Decision Support Systems (Healthcare DSS) and Executive Information Systems (EIS) standardization and, in my opinion, has grown much more rapidly since 1994. Interface engines,HL7, standard interface hubs, open systems, data repositories, SQL/ODBC/other standards, and Microsoft compliance have become the norm in industry system planning. Compliance to standards and open system architecture are rapidly becoming the necessary requirement prior to the consideration of any software product, no matter what the functional benefit.

Structural Standardization

The company is perfectly positioned to take advantage of industry's demand for structural standardization. The Charge Master Standardization Engine is widely accepted in the healthcare market, especially in the proprietary chains. Additionally, a standard charge master becomes the critical hub for the potential provision of spin-off Structural Standardization Products (SSP's) to address needs in the areas of utilization management and cost management. With a reference base of 200 to 300 healthcare entities, The company has a unique window of opportunity to introduce additional SSP's into the market, many of which are fully developed or completely designed and market tested. SSP's include:

  • Charge Master Standardization Engine
  • Clinical Systems Integrator Interface Engine
  • Labor Segmentation Interface


Labor Segmentation (LS) - allows for the standardization of a payroll system to form homogeneous labor segments ready for hierarchical

Product Cost Management (PCM) - cost accounting solution which standardizes the General Ledger into homogeneous segments, transports and audits cost through a standard cost allocation matrix which outputs fully allocated components of cost to the clinical DSS and/or EIS

Fixed/Variable Cost Accounting Model - quantitative fixed/variable cost splits running in tandem with both LS and PCM

Inter-Facility Utilization Comparative Analysis

Inventory/Supply Cost Analysis and Control

As industry demands less products/services to support procedure-level pricing, it is imperative that SSP's address the more critical areas of cost and utilization management. If this can be done, the company can become a major provider of DSS and EIS solutions with a unique emphasis on structural standardization.

Executive Reporting Matrix

The healthcare market has and continues to demand information. DSS and EIS are generally installed or being considered as part of an enterprise system plan. Major systems vendors provide software tools to industry but these systems are generally fragmented, modular, multi-vendor, multi-platform, and are delivered on closed architecture, i.e., system diversity. The vendors know it as does industry. Still systems and modules are purchased and/or upgraded, further increasing system diversity.

The company has a unique window of opportunity to enter this very competitive market with a superior suite of products. Certainly, the company can offer system standardization utilizing mainstream Oracle/Access open systems; however, the major vendors are moving quickly to “open” their systems in a similar manner. The potential company edge is to add the back-end Structural Standardization Products. SSP’s, designed correctly (with proper audit logic), from source system through an Interface Engine, to the executive end user utilizing a completely Microsoft/IBM compliant open architecture Executive Reporting Matrix (ERM) can differentiate the company ’s DSS and EIS products from competitive products. With ERM, the executive can have complete Windows workstation access to information in an open system and most importantly, can be assured that the information has been correctly standardized on the back-end by the SSP’s. The Executive Reporting Matrix can now be clearly differentiated by virtue of the back-end SSP’s.


The company challenge will be to focus on the production of a modular yet fully integrated DSS and EIS that can be introduced into diverse system environments (which may include pre-existing DSS/EIS) with minimal disruption and maximum cost benefit. A strong foundation exists with the proven SSP back-end: Charge Master Standardization Engine. A well designed front-end exists with the Executive Reporting Matrix.

Once ERM has been installed in a facility on a Windows workstation, the company DSS/EIS “look” will remain compliant with Microsoft and/or other industry standards as they emerge. User learning curve will be near zero since ERM was designed to be intuitive to the average Windows user. Interface Engine products will provide ERM with data from diverse systems, while the SSP’s and other back-end DSS products are designed, built, packaged, and introduced to the market. Most importantly, each company module or SSP will be integrated on the back-end to provide more accurate data while preserving the native look and feel of the ERM end user interface.