Committee News: What’s Up With EMIT?

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July 1, 2013 Volume 77, Number 7
Committee News: What’s Up With EMIT? Christine A. Doyle, M.D., Chair Committee on Electronic Media and Information Technology (EMIT)

EMIT has been busy this spring after its winter meeting during the March ASA Board of Directors weekend.

The committee is working on a completely new white paper covering anesthesia information management systems (AIMS). There is no one “best” system for everyone, and it’s important that you address the questions you need to answer for your own facility and needs. This white paper is intended to be a tool to help you identify your requirements and then determine if a given product will meet them. We will announce its general availability later this year and welcome feedback from members.

As many have seen at their home facilities, information technology (IT) has become more pervasive and increasingly important. IT is one of the major budget categories for all facilities, and the drive to collect meaningful use (MU) dollars will continue to increase – possibly beyond any monies actually received by meeting the MU criteria. ASA is in the midst of a full assessment of our current IT capabilities, both realized and unrealized, as well as a gap analysis. The EMIT members are an integral part of this analysis and frequently serve as beta testers for the IT Department. Two major projects at this time revolve around content management (documents for the most part) and association management (membership issues).

The original Web Editorial Board (WEB) actually edited the webpage, dealt with servers and performed other functions related to the website. As our staff expanded, they appropriately took over those tasks, and the WEB was disbanded several years ago. It became apparent that the webpage required more input from ASA members, and a Web Oversight Task Force was created by then-ASA President Jerry Cohen, M.D. Both current and past members of the Committees on Communications and EMIT, as well as key staff members and consultants, have spent the past two years working on revisions to the site. Although much of it is not yet visible, underlying functionality has improved tremendously. Current changes are focused on the user interface, particularly navigation within the website. Our goal is to improve the overall user experience for both ASA members and non-members when using the ASA website. It is likely that a restructured standing committee will be needed in the long-term.

In a related topic, the website’s search function has been an ongoing problem. Although it has improved, the lack of good taxonomy seems to hamper the search functionality. Although the Google search appliance we use will automatically assign keywords to our posts based on their contents, the choices may not be optimal. In discussion with other committees, EMIT will collect a list of keywords and meta-tags that should be used with future postings to facilitate search.

Many committee members have noted issues with blocked access to a variety of websites from Internet access within their hospitals, including the ASA website, journal sites, registry sites, etc. This limits our ability to care for patients. Led by Matthew Wecksell, M.D., a new white paper is available, which provides a rationale for why such sites should not be blocked. Members may choose to use this paper when discussing the issue with their local IT staff and creating policies.

Given ongoing concerns about privacy breaches, the committee has been researching a variety of secure e-mail and texting products. There are a wide variety of options out there, and at this point, the committee does not see any great advantage to a single product. We are continuing our work and hope to be able to make suggestions to members for options in their local community.

Overall, the committee has been busy so far this year, and we expect to continue to be busy for the next several months.

Christine A. Doyle, M.D. is a staff physician, Department of Anesthesiology, O’Connor Hospital, and President, Coast Anesthesia Medical Group, San Jose, California.