Do you have a Health IT project in mind for your hospital, department or clinic? Do you need help justifying it and getting it approved?

Here’s my quick tip: Use IRACIS.

I’ve been working in Health IT for more than 13 years and most of my experience involves working with hospitals. It can be daunting to justify a hospital IT project to management. What helped me was a concept I came across in a book–it’s called IRACIS.

IRACIS is an acronym that stands for:

  • IR: Increase Revenues
  • AC: Avoid Costs
  • IS: Improve Services

When using each item in IRACIS, be as concrete and as tangible as possible. Use actual numbers and figures, if at all possible.

Increase Revenues

Let’s accept it–all projects in the hospital should contribute to financial viability. That’s why this part of IRACIS is important. Possible areas you can look into:

  • Turn-around time: Streamlining queue-based processes and reducing waiting times help patient throughput.
  • Additional services: IT projects can introduce new hospital services, e.g. Telemedicine.
  • Value-added service: Basic services, e.g. laboratory, can be ‘converted’ to premium services once enabled by IT services.

Avoid Costs

Hospitals are pressured to manage costs. IT projects are often set in place to help avoid cost and reduce overhead in the long run. Possible ideas include:

  • Eliminate paper: IT projects can eliminate many paper-based requests and processes, e.g. logbooks, request slips.
  • Reduce manpower requirements: This may be a sensitive issue but some IT projects–not all–might eliminate several job functions.
  • Lesser redundant services: IT systems can catch redundant orders and tests. They also help manage inventory and supply chain.

Improve Services

This IRACIS component is often the most difficult to quantify. However, hospitals looking for opportunities to differentiate and expand their market cannot ignore this component. Some potential areas include:

  • Reduced waiting times and queue management: Hospitals can learn from innovative restaurants and banks about how to handle queueing, registrations and order-taking.
  • Patient engagement: Emails, SMS and Websites can increase range of patient engagement activities.
  • Customer service: Keeping databases on patient details and preferences can make the hospital visit feel more personal and tailor-fit.

The IRACIS approach is a quick-and-dirty tool but it can be extremely useful for proposing and justifying IT projects to management. When building your business case, remember to be as concrete and tangible as possible in each specific component.