Central New York hospital reaps benefits from NSF-funded research program at Syracuse University
Central New York hospital reaps benefits from NSF-funded research program at Syracuse UniversityMay 10, 2002Judy Holmesjlholmes@syr.edu
The Syracuse Information Systems Evaluation Project (SISE) at Syracuse University’s School of Information Studies is helping a Central New York hospital overcome the “growing pains” associated with the installation of a new enterprise-wide information system.
Kathryn Stam, associate director of the SISE, and a group of graduate students in the School of Information Studies have been working since last October with David Markant, director of information systems for A. L. Lee Memorial Hospital in Fulton, N.Y., as the hospital embarks on an effort to install a new enterprise-wide, hospital information management system. The system is designed to increase efficiency for hospital staff, streamline services for the hospital’s customers and eventually save money.
“Our hospital is pretty much a low-tech environment,” Markant says. “Many transfers of information between departments are still done on paper, which is labor intensive and not cost-effective. This investment in IT represents a huge catch-up for the hospital that will enable it to move into the 21st century.”
Stanton says that A.L. Lee’s technology woes are typical of many local and regional hospitals, which have tended to lag behind larger urban and research institutions in terms of the level of integration of information technology.
The partnership developed between Lee Hospital and SISE calls on the researchers to interview staff members before the new IT system is in place, conduct a smaller-scale evaluation midway through the implementation process, and then do a final evaluation after the system is in place. After each evaluation, the researchers will provide feedback to hospital administrators and staff, including an analysis of the data collected from the interviews and recommendations designed to improve the quality of people’s work lives.
“The scenario at Lee Hospital made our work particularly easy and straightforward,” Stam says. “The staff was very open with us and the hospital administration was already very much aware of the problems with the current system and how it affects the day-to-day operations of the staff. The IT solution that they are planning to implement is appropriate and addresses those concerns. Our recommendations fit closely with what the hospital was planning to do in the first place.”
The research team found that generally the staff looked forward to the new IT system; however, they were anxious about the amount of training they would receive before the system was up and running, Stam says. They also expressed concerns about whether there would be an appropriate amount of time spent on running a mock system before going live.
“The SU project reaffirmed the truth that we all knew to exist and did it in an objective, comprehensive and scientific way that compels us as an organization to pay more attention to training concerns than we might have otherwise,” Markant says. “Training is a crucial factor in the failure of system implementation.”
To make the transition smoother and relieve employee anxiety about the new IT system, the hospital embarked on a multi-level training program. The program includes a comprehensive employee personal computer training needs assessment, identification of the levels of computer literacy among employees, the development of basic computer literacy programs for the identified groups, and the creation of a program that will train staff to use the applications of the new IT system.
The SISE is a National Science Foundation-funded project designed to help organizations understand the impact of new IT systems on the users of the system and provide strategies that will improve the change process. Principal investigators on the project are Jeffrey Stanton, assistant professor and director of the SISE, and Stam, a postdoctoral research associate in the School of Information Studies.
The School of Information Studies at Syracuse University is a leading center for innovative programs in information policy, information behavior, information management, information systems, information technology and information services. Officially chartered in 1870 as a private, coeducational institution of higher education, Syracuse University is a leading student-centered research university.