Due to the significant differences between manufacturing and patient care, ERP-based systems do not easily translate to the healthcare setting. In particular, the lack of clinical standardization impedes the use of ERP systems for clinical integration. Nonetheless, an ERP-based system can help a healthcare organization integrate many functions, including patient scheduling, human resources management, workload forecasting, and management of workflow, that are not directly dependent on clinical decision making.
Enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems are a new type of software that enables companies to integrate business functions--including finance, human resources, operations, sales and distribution, and marketing--across their organizations. Companies throughout the world are increasingly converting to these systems. Major corporations that have implemented ERP systems in recent years include IBM, Microsoft, Eastman Kodak, and Hershey. Purchases of ERP systems reached $10 billion in 1997, a 40 percent increase from 1996, and industry analysts suggest that rapid growth is likely to continue through 2001.[a]
To date, the growth of ERP systems has been concentrated in the manufacturing sector, but large healthcare systems have begun to take an interest in these applications. As a result, vendors are developing ERP applications that offer administrative and logistical solutions for large healthcare systems.
The key question for a healthcare provider is whether an application originally designed with the manufacturing industry in mind, focusing...