Medicolegal Issues

SHM Forms Hospitalist IT Task Force


Do you speak geek? If you haven’t already, you may hear that phrase or something similar in the halls of your hospital or institution.

As hospitals face the challenge of implementing computerized physician order entry (CPOE) and electronic medical records (EMRs), many hospitals are turning to hospitalists to help guide them through the complex and daunting task of translating a critical initiative into an information technology (IT) success story. More and more, hospitalists are asked to play any number of roles in leading their institution to the IT Promised Land. Are you one of these people? Do you want to be? Not sure how to get started or where to turn for help? Look no further—SHM is here to help.

Late last year, SHM convened a small group of hospitalists with extensive IT experience. The meeting led to the formation of SHM’s new Hospitalist IT Task Force and a list of initiatives to help those of you interested in bridging the gap between the hospital and IT. In addition to this laundry list of ideas, the group described a set of roles a hospitalist can play in facilitating a CPOE or other IT project. Hospitalists involved in IT can act as:

Communicators: There are gaps in knowledge and understanding between physicians and IT staff. Medical staff members might not understand the IT vocabulary/processes, while the IT staff might not be familiar with medical vocabulary/processes. Hospitalists must translate the clinical needs of the hospital for the IT community when implementing programs like CPOE.

Champions: Every project needs a champion to have a chance at success. Knowledgeable hospitalists can communicate the value of IT initiatives to the hospital and drive these projects to a positive conclusion. Hospitalists understand the implications of transitioning from a paper to electronic environment and can engage the right people and resources to support these initiatives.

Experienced leaders (power users): There is a growing community of hospitalists who have implemented CPOE/EMR and other IT initiatives. They have been in the trenches. They know what works and what doesn’t, and they understand the pros and cons of different solutions. They are power users of medical IT and possess significant knowledge that can help others.

Reviewers: Each hospital has to select a technical solution that fits its administrative and clinical needs. The hospital will evaluate multiple options and selecting the appropriate solution. Hospitalists who play the roles of communicator, champion, and/or experienced leader can be valuable when solutions are being reviewed and evaluated.

Have you served in one of these roles? Would you like to get more involved in IT? SHM’s Hospitalist IT Task Force is exploring different ways to assist our members. Potential initiatives include:

  • Developing an online resource of articles, reference material, and Web sites that provide guidance and support related to IT in a hospital setting;
  • Holding an open forum at Hospital Medicine 2008, SHM’s Annual Meeting from April 3-5 in San Diego, to discuss the roles, challenges, successes, and pitfalls encountered in IT initiatives; and
  • Creating other educational vehicles for hospitalists working with IT in their hospital.

The success of an IT project depends on having the right people at the table. They are committed to success, they make open and honest contributions, and they work to align the needs of the organization with the capabilities of the technical solution by taking users’ needs into full consideration.

SHM’s Hospitalist IT Task Force is working to develop the right solutions to help you improve your hospital or project. If you are one of our hospitalist IT users and have an opinion, idea, or experience you would like to share, we would like to hear from you. Contact the Hospitalist IT Task Force at TH

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