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Jan 19 2011   11:46AM GMT

Applying application lifecycle management to EHR systems



Posted by: Jenny Laurello
application lifecycle management

By David Schneider, Editorial Assistant

Updating software can be expensive. Nearly 70% of IT departments earmark a quarter of their budget for application modernization, and more than 25% of IT companies are forced to budget half of their resources to that task, a Forrester Consulting LLC survey conducted on behalf of Hewlett-Packard Co. indicated.

Application lifecycle management (ALM) is a process by which changes and updates in one piece of software are tracked by another application. This means that if something goes wrong, administrators can check each change to find the culprit. Using ALM is akin to using the “track changes” feature in Microsoft Word when editing a document.

SearchHealthIT.com sister site SearchSoftwareQuality.com has discussed ALM and the importance of tracking changes in software updates in the article “Just-enough application lifecycle management.” The article suggests three application lifecycle management methodologies, each with its own merits:

  • Cradle-to-grave ALM involves a software program that monitors your product from inception to completion, and sorts files into logical buckets as it notes changes.
  • Version control as ALM depends on the individual user, and involves a particular file-naming system denoting changes in a product.
  • A wiki as ALM relies on all users adding changes to a public site that keeps track of updates.

Of the three methodologies, SearchSoftwareQuality.com says cradle-to-grave ALM is probably the best for a large organization that “has systems strewn all over the place.” That scenario is all too familiar to many health care organizations, and cannot be remedied easily — as the U.S. Department of Defense learned the hard way.

The Forrester Consulting survey results coincided with the release of Hewlett-Packard’s ALM 11, which counts among its new features a set of product planning and tracking capabilities that automatically mark certain criteria and milestones throughout the application lifecycle management process. HP ALM 11, then, qualifies as a cradle-to-grave methodology.

The capabilities in ALM 11 and other such products could prove effective for health care organizations managing updates to electronic health record software, as it would allow them to monitor whether the software meets the EHR standards that providers need to demonstrate the meaningful use of the technology.

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