Monday, May 21, 2007

Round Tables

I sat in on the Technology Issues in Hospitals Librarianship where we discussed primarily four Topics: EMRs, IP issues, IT Blocks, Success Stories.


Several librarians expressed interest in trying to get their foot in the door regarding EMR selection or just EMRs in general through IT departments or vendors. While many librarians were interested in sticking their big toe into the EMR waters, nobody at the table reported any success.

EMR varieties and vendors platforms also seemed to be cause for concern and produced many more questions than answers. It appears that EMR and information resource integration is platform dependent, which means if your information resources goes belly up or is bought by another company, you may not be able to find another one that works within your hospital's EMR.

Another cause for concern is the lack of standardization with EMRs for information resources linking. It was mentioned that some EMRs just have an “Info” button and it is unclear as to what that info button links to. Does it link to a medical dictionary, FirstConsult, Google, the hospital's formulary guide? Who knows? From what we can tell, it depends on the EMR and how it was set up in the hospital. Equally concerning is that products like FirstConsult are not all inclusive and do not contain nor link to all of the library's resources which also might be useful in an EMR.


Hospital librarians seem to have particular difficulties regarding IT and IP address. Many of the members of the round table mentioned how hospital IT administrators seem completely unaware of how the hospital's IP addresses effect electronic database access. There were many stories where the IT department changed the hospital's IP addresses completely and forgot to tell anybody (including the library), where IT departments added a whole new range and neglected to tell anybody (including the library), and where IT departments allowed different hospitals within the same overall system (or maybe different systems) to share IP ranges. All of these scenarios led to the same problem, hospital employees couldn't access research databases who use IP authentication as the standard for authenticating access.

After sharing some of these horror stories we began to discuss Athens as a possible solution to the IP mess.

We continued our complaints regarding our IT department when we began to discuss the issue of blocking sites from use. Each library mentioned a site or type of media that is blocked by IT on their hospital computers. Some mentioned Yahoo Mail, others mentioned Wikis, Blogger, Bloglines, all streaming videos, iTunes, etc. Librarians expressed their frustration about having these things blocked. Some of the things that librarians want to do are: create a nursing research and care wiki, create online tutorials, help patrons download medical podcasts, read professional blogs, showcase professional blogs to patrons, link to high quality surgical and medical videos. The librarians can't do any of this because of the blocks set by their IT departments.

The round table discussion was soon becoming a IT complaint session and our moderator nicely turned the discussion on success stories (IT or technology in general). It was generally agreed upon by most of the librarians that they had the most success in dealing with IT after they had found an ally within the department. However, it was also noted that some hospitals have LARGE IT departments and experience a lot of turnover or movement from within. So once the librarians finally established their credentials and found an IT friend, that person soon disappeared, leaving the librarians to start from scratch searching for another IT friend.

The round table was an interesting discussion and provided hospital librarians with ideas on how to deal with technology issues.


gwood said...

It's fascinating. You could be writing about the problems we face here on the other side of the world (all over Australia). Amazing that we all have the same issues, and that no-one has solved them yet.

NSW Health Department Library
Sydney, Australia

Anonymous said...

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