February 13, 2013
“Wiring” the Ottawa Hospital for success
The Centre for Information Technology, Organizations, and People (CITOP), a research unit in the Sprott School of Business, helps organizations better understand and manage the interrelationships between technology, organizations and people.
Directed by Dr. Gerald Grant, CITOP is currently studying the impact of a new information technology (IT) system in use at the Ottawa Hospital. The new system, Computerized Provider Order Entry, helps medical staff to carry out daily activities such as ordering medication and blood tests.
The hospital recently distributed 2,800 iPads to facilitate the use of the new IT system among medical staff. (Some administrative staff, such as senior managers, also received iPads to use for business purposes.)
Dr. Grant’s multi-disciplinary team is evaluating the success of the new IT system, such as how it affects people who use it, it’s impact on procedures and whether the new technology is being used.
CITOP aims to understand the change and how to manage those changes.
Most people have better technology in their homes than at their organization
“Most organizations spend up to 60 per cent of their capital budget on information technology,” explains Dr. Grant, an associate professor and coordinator of the Information Systems Area at the Sprott School of Business. However, these investments often do not produce the expected results. For example, many technology projects fail, deliver late or are over budget. According to Dr. Grant, new information technology creates enormous change in organizations, and CITOP aims to understand the change and how to manage those changes.
“Historically, we go so fast here, we don’t always take the time to formally evaluate the [IT] changes we’ve made,” says Pam Bush, the clinical director of nursing informatics and technology at the Ottawa Hospital. “[This project] is giving us information that will allow us to improve the service we provide to our teams and, ultimately, to the patient. It’s very positive for our organization and our patients.”
Dr. Grant, who has consulted internationally for the Commonwealth Secretariat, expects to find that CITOP’s research will show there are differences between the designed purpose of the hospital IT systems and what’s done in practice. According to the CITOP director, the latter may represent the most effective way of doing things.
Every Canadian is touched by healthcare at one point in their life
In fact, the results of one of his researchers, PhD candidate David Hudson, seem to support Dr. Grant’s expectations. Hudson, a 21-year Nortel veteran who once supervised 600 employees in the advanced technology group, interviewed iPad users at the Ottawa Hospital and found that many used other electronic devices and tools, such as apps for dialysis treatment, as well as their iPads. Hudson, who hopes for a career in academia, also found that some users did not use their iPads because they preferred their own device. “Most people have better technology in their homes than at their organization,” Hudson noted.
CITOP member and award-winning Carleton Professor Linda Duxbury says that the lessons learned from the Ottawa Hospital study can be used to implement other technology within a healthcare setting.
A pioneer in the field of organizational health, Dr. Duxbury and her team (faculty members Luciara Nardon and Linda Schweitzer and PhD student Laura Gover) are studying how the new IT system at the Ottawa Hospital affects its users. “Every Canadian is touched by healthcare at one point in their life,” she explains. “But healthcare is a phenomenal cost right now, and a lot of the cost is at the human capital end.” According to Dr. Duxbury, it will make a big difference if the healthcare system can be changed to deliver better healthcare cost-effectively and in a way that helps the people who are delivering the healthcare.
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