IMASIS computer-based medical record project: dealing with the human factor.

M. Martín-Baranera, I. Planas, J. Palau, F. Sanz

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Abstract

The Institut Municipal d'Assistència Sanitària (IMAS) is a health care organization in Barcelona, comprising two general hospitals, a psychiatric hospital, a surgical clinic, a geriatric center, some primary care clinics, and a research institute. Since 1984, IMAS has been engaged in creating a multicenter integrated hospital information system (IMASIS). Currently, IMASIS offers the possibility to manage administrative data, laboratory results, pathology and cytology reports, radiology reports, and pharmacy inpatient orders; it also shares this information on-line among IMAS centers. IMASIS users may also work with a word processor, a spreadsheet, a database, or a statistical package and have access to MEDLINE. A second phase of IMASIS development began in December 1993 focused on clinical information management. The goal was to move towards an integrated multimedia medical record [1]. As a first step, the implementation experiences of the most advanced hospital information systems around the world were studied. Some of these experiences detected behavioral, cultural, and organizational factors [2] as the main sources of delay, or even failure, in HIS projects. A preliminary analysis to define such factors, assess their potential impact, and introduce adequate measures to deal with them seemed unavoidable before structuring of the project. In our approach to physician attitudes analysis, two survey techniques were applied. First, every hospital service head was contacted to schedule an interview, with either a service representative or a group of staff physicians and residents. The aim was to provide detailed information about project objectives and collect personal opinions, problems encountered in the current HIS, and specific needs of every medical and surgical specialty (including imaging needs). Every service head was asked to distribute a questionnaire among all clinicians, which assessed frequency of use of IMASIS current applications, user's satisfaction level, problems to be solved in utilization of the system, errors detected in the systems' database, and the personal interest in participating in the IMASIS project. The questionnaire was also intended to be a tool to monitor IMASIS evolution. Our study showed that medical staff had a lack of information about the current HIS, leading to a poor utilization of some system options. Another major characteristic, related to the above, was the feeling that the project would negatively affect the organization of work at the hospitals. A computer-based medical record was feared to degrade physician-patient relationship, introduce supplementary administrative burden in clinicians day-to-day work, unnecessarily slow history taking, and imply too-rigid patterns of work. The most frequent problems in using the current system could be classified into two groups: problems related to lack of agility and consistency in user interface design, and those derived from lack of a common patient identification number. Duplication of medical records was the most frequent error detected by physicians. Analysis of physicians' attitudes towards IMASIS revealed a lack of confidence globally. This was probably the consequence of two current features: a lack of complete information about IMASIS possibilities and problems faced when using the system. To deal with such factors, three types of measures have been planned. First, an effort is to be done to ensure that every physician is able to adequately use the current system and understands long-term benefits of the project. This task will be better accomplished by personal interaction between clinicians and a physician from the Informatics Department than through formal teaching of IMASIS. Secondly, a protocol for evaluating the HIS is being developed and will be systematically applied to detect both database errors and systemUs design pitfalls. Finally, the IMASIS project has to find a convenient point for starting, to offer short-term re
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)333
JournalMedinfo. MEDINFO
Volume8 Pt 1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 1995

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    Martín-Baranera, M., Planas, I., Palau, J., & Sanz, F. (1995). IMASIS computer-based medical record project: dealing with the human factor. Medinfo. MEDINFO, 8 Pt 1, 333.