21st Feb 2012
Some people think that putting a clinical information system (a CIS) into a hospital will change the way that people in the hospital work and the quality of the care that patients get when they visit. This is absolutely true if the people who work in the hospital are fully engaged in the process of building, testing and deploying the system.
Integrating computer systems into peoples’ lives takes planning, forethought, and care. When systems are well integrated they become a valued part of the organization that uses them. If our activity is constrained to installing the technology and then walking away it then the experience is immeasurably more difficult.
At their best, computer systems can be a useful tool that we use to improve our performance and to make our lives easier. At worst, computer systems can annoy us and get in the way of us doing our jobs. The best way to make sure that the computer systems benefit us is to understand what they do and to think about how that might be of use to us.
Putting a computer system in can save time and money and can transform the patient experience and the work of healthcare professionals if the people who use it adopt the technology effectively.
If you are a mobile ’phone user, or if you use Facebook, email, or Google regularly, you will know that these technologies take a small investment of time and effort to learn and understand but can make an astounding difference to our personal and our working lives. In many cases this change has been for the better and has opened up opportunities that did not exist before.
Can you imagine now what it was like not to have email; to wait several days for a letter to arrive; or to be only able to call someone on a phone when they were at home or at their office desk?
Integrating a health care computer system into the working lives of people in a hospital can have a similar profound effect. Be prepared though! It is a far more challenging and daunting task than introducing an individual to a single piece of technology.
To be successful we must approach the challenge intelligently, sensitively, and strategically. By doing this we will achieve the transformational change that we aim for.
Meaningful and lasting change must come from within ourselves. Constructive change cannot be imposed on organizations or people. Deep understanding of the vision and the benefits that will accrue from effective use of clinical information systems can be a powerful catalyst for the desire to change.
My approach is to help to crystalize the vision, and to assist the natural leaders in an organization to lead the changes necessary to get the most from their IT. We aim to build a team that is bigger than the component parts and to equip that team with the skills, understanding and tools to lead their organizations forward.
By developing this series of articles we aim to be able to show healthcare providers how they can work with us to get the most out of their clinical information systems.
I maintain a network with a wealth of colleagues, experience and skills that will help the people involved in CIS projects to be effective team members, to have an early constructive input and to continue to engage strongly to deliver exceptional results.