As a former industrial manager involved in information technology development some 40 years ago and spouse of a retired radiologist, I found Dr McMahen’s comments on EMR in the June issue particularly interesting (“Ready or not” BCMJ 2009;51:190).
Implementation of an information system that does not produce the results for which it was intended is always a mistake. It’s hard to get people back on board after they have been turned off by something inadequate and time consuming. As an ex-hospital board member I also remember the implementation problems with the original MEDITECH system that actually increased the work for lab techs at the time.
It is absolutely essential that the people who are going to use a system are thoroughly involved in its design. An individual or group of users needs to take on the leadership and insist that this happens if they have not done so already. I remember being of minor assistance to psychiatrist Dr Philip W. Long when he decided to produce a psychiatric expert system just as I was assembling my first personal computer in 1977.
Later on, Dr Long hired programmers and spent time most days between patients dictating the design of the system. He now has at least two web sites, mentalhealth.com and mytherapy.com. Both, I am sure, have been very useful to his field, and he has been honored for their development by the BC and Canadian psychiatric associations. He certainly got involved.
I have memories of working for Canfor when a systems group at the Bentall Centre in Vancouver was trying to tell us at the pulp mill, miles away, how to develop a system. It took some time for them to learn that they were not at the centre of the world, and we needed to be deeply involved before something useful was achieved.
If a group of physicians does not take leadership and step forward to see that a fully functional system is developed, you may get something that is more of a millstone than an asset. It is certainly time that you had such a useful system. I hope my comments are useful.
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