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A regional health authority wishes to procure an information system to help manage the care of patients suffering from mental health problems. The overall goals of the system are twofold:

1. To generate management information that allows health service managers to assess performance against local and government targets.

2. To provide medical staff with timely information to facilitate the treatment of patients.

The health authority has a number of clinics that patients may attend in different hospitals and in local health centres. Patients need not always attend the same clinic and some clinics may support ‘drop in’ as well as pre-arranged appointments.

The nature of mental health problems is such that patients are often disorganised so may miss appointments, deliberately or accidentally lose prescriptions and medication, forget instructions and make unreasonable demands on medical staff. In a minority of cases, they may be a danger to themselves or to other people. They may regularly change address and may be homeless on a long-term or short-term basis. Where patients are dangerous, they may need to be ‘sectioned’ – confined to a secure hospital for treatment and observation.

Users of the system include clinical staff (doctors, nurses, health visitors), receptionists who make appointments and medical records staff. Reports are generated for hospital management by medical records staff. Management have no direct access to the system.

The system is affected by two pieces of legislation (in the UK, Acts of Parliament). These are the Data Protection Act that governs the confidentiality MHCPMS Case Study 2 of personal information and the Mental Health Act that governs the compulsory detention of patients deemed to be a danger to themselves or others.

The system is NOT a complete medical records system where all information about a patients’ medical treatment is maintained. It is solely intended to support mental health care so if a patient is suffering from some other unrelated condition (such as high blood pressure) this would not be formally recorded in the system.

As a lead analyst for MHCPS, it is your responsibility is to plan and gather system requirements. Answer the following questions on how you would gather requirements for the proposed system.

1. Who are MHCPS stakeholders?

2. What are the different ways which can be used to gather the requirements for new MHCPS? Explain each of them.  

3. How would you determine the system requirements? Why it is important to identify system requirements precisely?

4. What would be the primary functional requirements for the proposed system? (Hint: you can suggest your own functional requirements which are not listed in the scenario)

5. Briefly describe some possible non-functional requirements for MHCPSunder following categories:

Usability

Safety

Privacy

Operational Cost

Stakeholders

Medical accounts are the bedrock to the healthcare profession; however records maintenance is a challenge to various users of a healthcare system. Medical records are often misplaced or inaccurate, thus requiring a system which increases efficiency while lowering costs. Developing a system that will be able to capture and store data from an emergency transport vehicle or remote monitor is fundamental. To develop the system, it is necessary to investigate the requirements

There are different types of stakeholders involved in investigating system requirements. Stakeholders are those who have an interest in seeing the implementation of a system is successful. The three primary groups of interested parties include users, clients, and staff . Users are the people who interact with the system and have a significant interest in its successful operation. Clients are the people who pay for the system thereby being a source of funding for developing a system. Staffs are persons who interact with the system as their work. Mental Health Care Patient Management System (MHCPS) stakeholders include medical staff, clinical workers receptionists, managers and clients.

The various methods used in gathering information include distributing questionnaires, interviewing users, reviewing existing documentation, observing business procedures and researching from similar systems. I would formulate queries focusing on what the clinics do, how they do it and the information they use to perform the activities. Conducting interviews and discussions with users would enable me to get firsthand information on what and how they require the system to function. Reviewing documents and procedure descriptions within the clinics will inform me on how previous systems have been operating. Observing business processes would involve walking through to doing actual tasks. Since many concerns have been solved by other organization researching companies with similar systems for solutions would be a key data collection method.

System requirements include the activities that a system must undertake or support and the constraints it encounters. System requirements are categorized into two functional and non-functional. Functional requirements are activities that a system must carry out that are based on procedures and system requirements. Non-functional requirements describe how the system should perform its functions they include needs such as reliability, efficiency, security, usability and technical .

 The modeled system should be compatible with various operating systems. It should be easy to use with most users not needing assistance in using the system. It should enable bidirectional communication between the actor and the data source. The system should provide confidentiality of information and security of operation.

Understanding the new systems constraints, procedures and functions plays a key role in the developing of requirements and model for the new system. It also helps in prioritizing requirements. Prioritizing of requirements is necessary since resources are always limited. I need to carefully weigh priorities because the scope of system requirements tends to expand as stakeholders make more suggestions.  Prioritizing helps in determining composition, number, and ordering of project iterations.

It is important to investigate system requirements to ensure various organizational needs are satisfied, and objectives are achieved.  It also provides alternative solutions to various problems are delivered. Analyzing system requirements promote communication, ensure customer needs are satisfied and reduce the risks of failure of a project. The process of investigating system requirements enables the participation stakeholder throughout the project lifecycle.

Techniques for obtaining information

Functional requirements entail the activities of a system. The activities may be in the form of services, functions or tasks the system has to do . The new system will provide access to complete medical data. The system needs to have functions that ensure MHCPS medical staffs have timely information to facilitate treatment of patients. The system will generate reminders and alerts including appointment dates, a schedule for taking medication and their health care provider. It will facilitate communication and collaboration between all providers involved in a client’s care. The system will allow clients contact their healthcare providers any time they have a concern. The system should update, retrieve and store data from various input locations including electronic monitoring equipment, hospital work place, and emergency vehicle systems .

The system should be easy to use such that majority of the users will be able to complete various tasks without needing assistance and are satisfied with its usability. The system needs to be prompt in responding to requests and accepting data items. It should provide guidelines for fixing errors and should generate reminders .The language the system uses should be familiar to the user rather than system-oriented terminologies.

The system should have the ability to function normally without risking lives or the environment. The system should have added control features to avoid hazards. It should also have firewalls to control the damage as well as other protective reactions to results. The system should have scans that prevent, detect and remove hazards .

Privacy of personal health data is essential; therefore the system will have to comply with strong user requirements. It will also need to abide by strict national rules concerning access to patient’s data. The Data Protection Act mandates confidentiality of personal information. In modeling the system, the regulations put in place must be considered and adapted to interface with the new system structure .

The system should be designed in ways that reduce the lifecycle cost of the entire system. The system should be designed to minimize costs from the initial release as well as in the enhancing of future models . Investigating system requirements helps in identifying the possible defects thus reducing the costs incurred in the management of the system.  The aim should be to develop an efficient system while minimizing costs.

Conclusion:

Investigating the system requirements enables the analyst to identify the various functional and non-functional needs; the stakeholders involved and grasp the general view of the project. The process helps in identifying stakeholder needs and problems that need to be resolved

References:

[1]    L. Maciaszek, Requirements analysis and system design.: Pearson Education, 2007.
[2]    J. W. Satzinger, R. B. Jackson, and S. D. Burd, Systems analysis and design in a changing world.: Cengage learning, 2011.
[3]    A. Van Lamsweerde, Requirements engineering: From system goals to UML models to software , 10th ed. Chichester, UK: John Wiley & Sons, 2009.
[4]    K. Pohl, Requirements engineering: fundamentals, principles, and techniques.: Springer Publishing Company, Incorporated, 2010.
[5]    B. Strauch, Investigating human error: Incidents, accidents, and complex systems.: CRC Press., 2017.
[6]    M. Glinz, "On non-functional requirements. ," In Requirements Engineering Conference, vol. 15th IEEE International, no. RE'07. , pp. pp. 21-26. IEEE, October 2007.
[7]    J. Holt, Model-based requirements engineering.: The Institution of Engineering and Technology, 2012.
[8]    Thonse et al., "Software system requirements specification framework and tool," U.S. Patent Application 11/084,730, filed , March 17 2005.

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