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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Benchmarking of hospital information systems: Monitoring of discharge letters and scheduling can reveal heterogeneities and time trends

Martin Dugas1*, Markus Eckholt2 and Holger Bunzemeier3

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Medical Informatics and Biomathematics, University of Münster, Domagkstr. 9, D-48149 Münster, Germany

2 IT center, University Hospital of Münster, Germany

3 Business division medical management, University Hospital of Münster, Germany

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BMC Medical Informatics and Decision Making 2008, 8:15  doi:10.1186/1472-6947-8-15

Published: 19 April 2008



Monitoring of hospital information system (HIS) usage can provide insights into best practices within a hospital and help to assess time trends. In terms of effort and cost of benchmarking, figures derived automatically from the routine HIS system are preferable to manual methods like surveys, in particular for repeated analysis.


Due to relevance for quality management and efficient resource utilization we focused on time-to-completion of discharge letters (assessed by CT-plots) and usage of patient scheduling. We analyzed these parameters monthly during one year at a major university hospital in Germany.


We found several distinct patterns of discharge letter documentation indicating a large heterogeneity of HIS usage between different specialties (completeness 51 – 99%, delays 0 – 90 days). Overall usage of scheduling increased during the observation period by 62%, but again showed a considerable variation between departments.


Regular monitoring of HIS key figures can contribute to a continuous HIS improvement process.