ON THE BUS from Brooklyn last month, 70-some members of Maimonides Medical Center’s IT team sang camp songs and waved out the window above a sign that said they were headed to Washington, D.C. to win the Computerworld Smithsonian Award for Medicine. And they did.
The homegrown IT team had been nominated for the prestigious award for creating a networked information system to deliver patient data instantly to doctors and other healthcare staff--any time and anywhere they want it, including their homes.
The Maimonides Access Clinical System is the heart of a mainframe-based integrated software solution that enables standalone clinical systems to behave as one transparent electronic medical record. It includes test results, radiology images, voice dictation and graphic-enhanced data--and contrasts starkly with the punchcard environment the growing integrated delivery system depended upon only two years before. Says Ann C. Sullivan, senior VP and CIO of Maimonides, "We had a one-year payback. It’s been a most rewarding experience."
As she accepted the honor at the Academy Awards-like gala June 8, Sullivan gave special praise not just to the IT team made up of recruits from clinical staff, but to the vendors whose willingness to become strategic partners was so critical to the project’s success. She gives particular credit to Unisys and StorCOMM Picture Archiving and Communications System, but her disappointment in many vendors is clear.
Approaching the enormity of taking Maimonides in two years through 25 years of IT advancement, Sullivan asked her vendors to join in the project’s planning and development. She considered it a unique opportunity for vendors committed to healthcare to explore some frontiers in IT application. But not everyone was interested. "We wanted strategic partnerships on product direction serving the unique needs in healthcare," she says. "I was shocked at how many vendors chose to have just vendor relationships."
Next on Maimonides’ agenda is to further refine the system to meet clinical staff’s needs, to complete an elaborate patient satisfaction survey, expand the data repository, and to focus on ambulatory care.
Maimonides’ case study will be preserved in the Smithsonian Institution’s Permanent Research Collection on Information Technology "so that future generations can learn from the men and women creating this current day revolution," according to the award.
Look for more on the Maimonides experience in an upcoming issue of Healthcare Informatics.
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