Introducing the COrETeSt Feasibility Analysis in Medical Informatics: A Case Study of a Decision-Support Knowledge System in the Dutch Primary Care Sector

Introducing the COrETeSt Feasibility Analysis in Medical Informatics: A Case Study of a Decision-Support Knowledge System in the Dutch Primary Care Sector

Michiel C. Meulendijk (Utrecht University, The Netherlands), Clara Drenth-van Maanen (Utrecht University, The Netherlands), Paul Jansen (Utrecht University, The Netherlands), Sjaak Brinkkemper (Utrecht University, The Netherlands), Mattijs Numans (Utrecht University, The Netherlands) and Marco Spruit (Utrecht University, The Netherlands)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-3990-4.ch056
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Abstract

Although the conduction of feasibility analyses before executing comprehensive projects is often urged in literature, little standardization exists regarding actual approaches. In this chapter, the authors describe the practice of conducting a feasibility analysis of a decision-support knowledge platform in the Dutch primary care sector, and present recommendations for researchers and entrepreneurs performing similar projects accordingly. The research question, investigating how the feasibility of a decision-support knowledge platform in the primary care domain can be investigated, is answered by describing in detail the issues encountered during the process and included as COrETeSt-recommendations: the investigation of conceptual, organizational, economic, technological, and societal aspects comprises an extensive feasibility analysis in the primary care domain.
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1. Introduction And Background

Whenever conducting comprehensive projects, it is common practice for researchers and entrepreneurs alike to investigate the risks that may threaten their feasibility beforehand. Although definitions vary, the aim of feasibility studies is generally understood as objectively and rationally determining projects’ risks and ultimate viability. Various studies define feasibility analyses in similar terms, from a tool “to determine if a business opportunity is possible, practical and viable” to “a controlled process for identifying problems and opportunities, determining objectives, describing situations, defining successful outcomes and assessing the range of costs and benefits” (Hoagland & Williamson, 2000; Thompson, 2005).

Feasibility studies are designed to show how ventures would operate under a controlled “set of assumptions”, testing “such factors as the technology used, financing, marketing, and so on” (Matson, Brockhouse & Wadsworth, 2010). Based on these studies entrepreneurs can identify potential pitfalls and adjust their plans accordingly. Aside from the results’ practical implications, benefits may also include proved economic viability and thus influence prospective investors.

While the initial costs of conducting feasibility analyses may discourage entrepreneurs from doing so, their application is widely propagated in literature: start-up ventures’ limited success rates are often quoted to stress the benefits of testing their feasibility in advance (Matson et al., 2010; Thompson, 2005). As Matson et al. (2010) state: “The study is usually the first time in a project development process that many key pieces and information about the project are assembled into one overall analysis. The study must show how well all of these pieces fit and perform together.” Feasibility studies should be carried out before starting work on the actual project; estimations regarding the time their conduction should take vary, but “a good rule of thumb for the feasibility analysis step for most development projects is 3 to 6 months” (Matson et al., 2010).

Feasibility studies are common in the fields of medicine and IT (Timpka, 1989; Venkat et al., 2010). And even though much literature urges for the conduction of feasibility analyses, little standardization exists regarding the actual approach that should be taken. No proven methods have been proposed as step-by-step procedures for performing feasibility research. Even though this apparent lack of formalization remains unattended, various authors have proposed frameworks that aid entrepreneurs and researchers in determining which aspects to investigate. The most structured one of these is the feasibility analysis that Stair and Reynolds (2008) describe as part of the Systems Development Life Cycle. The TELOS, an acronym for its factors of interest, comprises the areas of technical, economic, legal, operational, and schedule feasibility. Other studies on feasibility include similar components, often based on the authors’ areas of expertise. Hoagland and Williamson (2000) greatly extend the economic and operational areas, including factors such as organizational and marketing aspects. Matson et al. (2010) describe various practical considerations regarding studies’ approaches (especially applicable in their field of agriculture), including consultants’ independency and stakeholders’ interests.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Feasibility Analysis: A controlled process for identifying problems and opportunities, determining objectives, describing situations, defining successful outcomes and assessing the range of costs and benefits of a business opportunity.

Medical Information System: A software program that facilitates processes in primary care.

Polypharmacy: The permanent, frequent use of more than five drugs by a single person.

Feasibility Analysis: A controlled process for identifying problems and opportunities, determining objectives, describing situations, defining successful outcomes and assessing the range of costs and benefits of a business opportunity.

Clinical Decision-Support System: A software program that provides clinicians, staff, patients, and other individuals with knowledge and person-specific information, intelligently filtered and presented at appropriate times, to enhance health and health care.

Polypharmacy: The permanent, frequent use of more than five drugs by a single person.

Feasible: A term indicating to what extent a project is capable of being done or carried out.

Clinical Decision-Support System: A software program that provides clinicians, staff, patients, and other individuals with knowledge and person-specific information, intelligently filtered and presented at appropriate times, to enhance health and health care.

Action Research: An approach to research in which researchers diagnose a social problem with a view of helping improve the situation, based on the assumption that complex social interactions cannot be reduced for meaningful study.

Feasible: A term indicating to what extent a project is capable of being done or carried out.

Medical Information System: A software program that facilitates processes in primary care.

Medical Informatics: A discipline involving the fields of information science, computer science and medicine, concerning the optimization of the use of information technology in medical applications.

Medical Informatics: A discipline involving the fields of information science, computer science and medicine, concerning the optimization of the use of information technology in medical applications.

Action Research: An approach to research in which researchers diagnose a social problem with a view of helping improve the situation, based on the assumption that complex social interactions cannot be reduced for meaningful study.

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