Utilisation of hospital information systems for medical research in Saudi Arabia: A mixed-method exploration of the views of healthcare and IT professionals involved in hospital database management systems
BACKGROUND:Although in recent times the Saudi government has paid much attention to the adaptation of hospital information systems (HIS) and electronic medical records (EMR), the importance of utilising HIS to enhance medical research has been neglected. OBJECTIVE:We aimed to (i) investigate the current state of medical research in Saudi Arabia, (ii) identify possible issues that hinder improvement of medical research and (iii) identify possible solutions to enhance the role of HIS in medical research in Saudi Arabia. METHOD:We used a questionnaire and structured interview approach. Questionnaires were distributed to Saudi healthcare professionals. One hundred responses to our questionnaire were captured by the online Google Form designed specifically for our survey. Structured interviews with two IT professionals were conducted regarding technical aspects of their hospital data management systems. RESULTS:Six themes contributing to the inefficacy of HIS in medical research in Saudi Arabia emerged from the data: incorrect datasets, difficult data collection and storage, poor data analytics, a lack of system interoperability across different HIS for universal access and negative perception of the usefulness of HIS for medical research. CONCLUSION AND IMPLICATIONS:Our findings suggest (i) cloud-based HIS would support efficient, reliable and integrated data collection and storage across all hospitals in Saudi Arabia; (ii) EMR data sources should be seamlessly linked to avoid incomplete, fragmented or erroneous EMR in Saudi Arabia; and (iii) collaboration between all hospitals in Saudi Arabia to adopt a uniform standard to support interoperability and improve data exchange and integration is necessary.