In a digital economy, digital networking and communication infrastructure provide a global platform where people and organisations come together to devise strategies, interact, communicate and search for information. (E Turban, 2006) refers digital economy to be the convergence of computing and communication technologies on the Internet and other networks, and the resulting flow of information and technology that Is stimulating e-commerce and vast organizational change. It enables all types of information to be stored, processed and transmitted over networks to destinations worldwide. It provides unparalleled opportunities for both entrepreneurs and companies to apply or create new business models to exisiting areas. Computer-based information systems of all kinds have been enhancing business competitiveness and creating strategic advantage on their own or combine with e-commerce applications. (E Turban, 2006)
The role of early systems was to support the operational activities in the organisation, whereas modern Information systems (IS) are able to transform the ways in which the organisation functions and competes in its environment. Understanding and knowing these developments enables the organisation to develop appropriate business strategies and responses to position the business accordingly in the digital economy. Both technology advancements and development in IS has shifted the way in which the business world functions at various levels. The levels are namely the international level, industry level, organisation level, inter-organisational level, personal level and interpersonal level. The extent of the impact of IS systems on each level will be discussed in this report.
International level- TradeNet allows members to submit permit applications electronically to the government bodies such as Central Narcotics Bureau and Singapore Customs. (Tradexchange, 2013)
Industry level- Three major United States automakers (General Motors, Ford and Chrysler) adopted the Electronic Data Interchange-Just in Time (EDI-JIT) system. (Sanders, 1992)
Organisational level- Suppliers supplying materials to the US automakers are able to make purchasing decisions on their own based on past sales trends. (Sanders, 1992)
Inter-organisational level- Shippers are able to coordinate shipping schedules with the manufacturers through the EDI-JIT system, improving production efficiency. (Sanders, 1992)
Personal level- New jobs roles are created with the introduction of IS in the digital economy.
Interpersonal level- Interpersonal interaction and communications have evolved over the years.
Singapore uses the TradeNet® system to improve trade competitiveness in the international arena. It simplified trade information exchange, faster processing of trade documentation, therefore improved efficiency and lower business costs.
Before TradeNet was formed, the manufacturers and exporters were hampered with cumbersome systems and procedures in their external trading. With TradeNet, the processing time is only 10 minutes as compared to 4 hours or even days before and there is only a single document submitted to the system.
US automakers had revolutionised the US automaker industry by adopting EDI-JIT system. It had forced the banks, suppliers and carriers to utilize the same system. The system coordinates the payment processes, order taking processes and shipping information under one system, thus improving the whole supply chain efficiency. (Sanders, 1992)
Turban suggests that there is a need for real time operations, where organisations decisions need to be made quickly in order to keep pace with the evolving business. At the organisational level, with the EDI-JIT system suppliers are able to make effective purchasing decisions themselves based on past sales trends, thus reducing redundant inventory stocks and being more responsive to customer demand. (Sanders, 1992)
At the inter-organisational level, shippers are able to coordinate shipping schedules with the manufacturers through the EDI-JIT system, improving production efficiency. It still can be accomplished in a traditional paper environment but with great difficulty. (Sanders, 1992)
The diversity of the workforce with the increase in knowledge workers and teleworkers allows organisations to adopt information systems quickly. At the personal level, with the introduction of information systems in the digital economy, new job roles and companies catering to these IS are created E.g. individuals who create software solutions for processing of EDI transactions and selling them to potential suppliers.
Vast developments in IT infrastructures such as computing power and cost of storage allow companies to computerise traditional paper based processes with information systems. At the interpersonal level, paper documents were sent between different departments within the same company to be authorised and signed, e-mails have since replaced the paper documents. Video calls have also replaced phone calls, saving on both travelling costs and time.
(Cox, 2009) suggest that more than half of all business investment in the US annually involves information systems (IS) and technologies. Turban suggests that the factors on organisations to adopt information systems can be divided into market, technological and social pressures.
The market pressures come from strong competition from the global economy, changing nature of the workforce and powerful customers. This forces organisations to focus their efforts to acquire and retain customers, thus creating customer relationship management systems.
Technology pressures consist of technological innovation and information overload. The amount of information and knowledge stored inside organisations is increasing exponentially over time. (E Turban, 2006) The solution is to either increase disk storage space or to implement intelligent databases.
Society pressures consist of social responsibility, complying with government regulations, protection from terrorist attacks. IS play an important role in ensuring compliance with government regulations, identifying potential sources of attack. Organisations are also under increased pressure to play a responsible role in environmental issues such as care for the environment E.g. Google build efficient data centres around the world. Google even offer an online tour of one of the data centre in Lenoir, to allow users to better understand what are the equipment and technology used within the data centre. (Google, 2013)
The extent of the impact of IT system can be seen from the examples given above. The rapid advancements in technology have resulted in equally rapid changes in the role of information system in the digital economy.
Section 2: Question 1b
This report will discuss how information technology (IT) systems have revolutionised healthcare provision. It will showcase examples to support this statement. (Chaudhry et al., 2006) describes healthcare information technology is viewed as the most promising tool for improving the overall quality, safety and efficiency of the health delivery system. Healthcare information technology is “the application of information processing involving both computer hardware and software that deals with the storage, retrieval, sharing and use of health care information, data and knowledge for communication and decision making” (Brailer, Thompson, 2004)
A study of North Carolina hospitals conducted over 2002 till 2007 has showed that, in 25 percent of all admissions, hospitalised patients are harmed by medical errors (Lamdrigan et al, 2010) Implementation of IT systems in healthcare provision have brought many benefits such as improving the quality of healthcare, reduction in medical errors and costs.
Medical records are stored electronically into databases instead of on traditional paper based environment, thus increasing administrative efficiencies.
Complicated surgeries and procedures such as removal of brain tumour are made safer by using high-tech machines. E.g. in Singapore, a teenager could speak, blink and even wriggle his toes during a surgery to remove his brain tumour. A lower level of anaesthesia was administered and he was discharged after just seven days of hospitalisation. (OutramNow, 2013)
Advanced analytics IT systems are used to detect infectious disease outbreaks early in countries e.g. global influenza surveillance which constantly monitor locally isolated influenza viruses and providing information on emergence and spread of different strains. (World Health Organization, 2013)
This section will discuss the challenges faced when using IT systems in healthcare industry. Despite the advancement of technology and the IT systems used in healthcare, it have surfaced problems such as ethical, privacy and operational issues. Patients are able to access their medical records via the Internet conveniently but confidentiality problems arise. The IT system must incorporate security standards such as cryptography to make sure that the patient information is safe in the system. High cost of implementing the technology and suspected case of fraudulent billing are some of the challenges of implementing electronic records. (Freudenheim, 2012)
With the entry of IT systems, existing business processes are either made obsolete or combined to omit redundant steps. Entirely new processes may also need to be added. Organisations can undergo business process re-engineering (BPR) initiatives. BPR describes how organisations may achieve radical improvements over a short period of time using process-focused methods (Cox, 2009). An example would be in a brain tumour surgery, where images feedback from an imaging scanner allow surgeons to decide whether any further procedures are required. (OutramNow, 2013) Nationwide Children, a hospital in Ohio, US has cut the number of preventable incidents and errors in half by incorporating patient safety central to every medical and surgical protocol. (Sternberg, 2012) The major obstacles faced by organisations implementing BPR are resistance to change, poor project leadership, high staff turnover, inadequate work place skills and poor top management support for the BPR initiative (Cox, 2009)
Surgeons are able to perform surgeries on a patient even though they are not physically in the same location through the use of remote surgery. It allows the expertise of specialised surgeons to be available worldwide to patients. The potential of remote surgery is huge. In future, surgeons thousands of miles away from the front will be able to treat wounded soldiers on the battlefield. It is not used across long distances because of lag time between the surgeon’s movements and the robot’s response. Doctors will need to change the existing processes and learn to compensate for the lag time of the robot’s response in performing remote surgery. (Pacheco, 2012) However there is still a lack of industry standard for training and credentialing of doctors to use the robot, besides a basic course by the manufacturer. The cost of each surgery also increased by a few thousand dollars. (Ostrom, 2012)
Based on the evidence given above, IT systems indeed have revolutionised healthcare provision. It have improved transparency and accountability of the healthcare system. Changes made by a rogue medical personal will leave behind a paper trail, and in the event unauthorised changes or access is made to a patient record, the offender can be tracked quickly and the changes can be undone. Implementation of IT systems in the provision of healthcare have brought many benefits such as improving the quality of healthcare rendered to the patients e.g. shorter queue time to see a doctor by implementing computerised patient records, reduction in medical errors and costs.
The challenges faced by implementing IT systems can be solved by implementing business process re-engineering (BPR). (Cox, 2009) suggests some factors contributing to the success of BPR to be realistic planning and schedules done by the management, effective training and medical workers need to be clear of the scope and goals of the process re-engineering initiatives. The organisation implementing BPR should follow closely to the factors given above and the obstacles discussed in the Discussion section to ensure the success of the BPR initiative.
In conclusion, IT systems have revolutionised healthcare provision around the world.
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