Why building your own patient safety software isn’t always the answer

April 12, 2016 Stephanie Radcliffe

If you build it, they will come. Except… they won’t always. Some hospitals choose to build their own patient safety reporting systems rather than purchase one off the shelf. In-house systems are great because they’re customized to your facility and workflow. And if you’re using software to manage your patient safety data, you’re ahead of lots of other hospitals who are still using paper or spreadsheets.

But there are drawbacks to building software in-house.

  • Hospital IT resources are taxed to the max. If your team is already busy with large-scale IT projects, like an EHR implementation, do you really want to add another thing on their plate? Better to choose something that’s easy to implement and has top-notch support. Finding the right team is just one more thing you’d have to do before you start. Find the right vendor, and let them find the team!

  • In-house systems aren't very scalable. Just because an in-house system suits your needs now, doesn’t mean that will always be the case. Hospitals are rapidly changing places with new facilities being added all the time, mergers & acquisitions and ever-changing regulatory changes. While you may not find the need for additional features at the moment, you may find that as your organization grows and changes that having them available will come in handy. 

  • External software vendors are upfront about project timelines. If they don’t meet your deadlines, there can be financial and reputational consequences. That’s harder when you’re dealing with colleagues.

  • Software is only part of the solution. Once the system is installed, you’ll need to train users, which is easier when you’re working with an external vendor that has a proven implementation approach and training documentation. Going with an established company also opens up other options. For example, RL has a vibrant user community to share ideas and best practices and our team will help you promote your system at your hospital to ensure users actually use it!  

  • Users don’t tolerate ugly software anymore. Two-thirds of Americans own a smartphone so most of us are familiar with what well-designed technology looks like. If you spend all that time building a system that works but you don’t invest resources in designing the user experience, staff won’t use the system. 

Making the switch

Brigham & Women’s Hospital’s (BWH) used to use a homegrown online reporting system that was novel for its time but the hospital quickly outgrew its capabilities. The system required considerable IT resources for any changes and it did not support documenting near misses. BWH decided look for an electronic reporting system that was customizable, fast and user-friendly and with excellent technical support services to ensure it could be adequately maintained in the long run.

After an exhaustive evaluation of several vendors, BWH ultimately chose RL6:Risk. Since implementing Risk, BWH has experienced a 25% increase in reported patient safety events. As well, 80% of all the events reported are near misses (including severity “0” and “1” events), up from 50%. Risk’s simple platform allowed BWH to customize the software, without using IT resources, and its easy reporting tools mean that the quality of the information has improved.

Read the full case study


Previous Article
Getting on the same page: Why health systems need to align their reporting systems
Getting on the same page: Why health systems need to align their reporting systems

Very few healthcare facilities exist as independent entities anymore. Health systems are merging, consolida...

Next Article
Tracking patient safety data: 6 reasons to stop using spreadsheets
Tracking patient safety data: 6 reasons to stop using spreadsheets

For smaller hospitals or healthcare facilities with a manageable amount of patient safety data, spreadsheet...