This paper proposes the creation and application of maturity models to guide institutional strategic investment in research informatics and information technology (research IT) and to provide the ability to measure readiness for clinical and research infrastructure as well as sustainability of expertise. Conducting effective and efficient research in health science increasingly relies upon robust research IT systems and capabilities. Academic health centers are increasing investments in health IT systems to address operational pressures, including rapidly growing data, technological advances, and increasing security and regulatory challenges associated with data access requirements. Current approaches for planning and investment in research IT infrastructure vary across institutions and lack comparable guidance for evaluating investments, resulting in inconsistent approaches to research IT implementation across peer academic health centers as well as uncertainty in linking research IT investments to institutional goals. Maturity models address these issues through coupling the assessment of current organizational state with readiness for deployment of potential research IT investment, which can inform leadership strategy. Pilot work in maturity model development has ranged from using them as a catalyst for engaging medical school IT leaders in planning at a single institution to developing initial maturity indices that have been applied and refined across peer medical schools.
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