SIIM: Can social media prevent a $34M loss? And build physician HIT buy-in?

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ORLANDO—In 2002, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles faced a health IT fiasco. The medical center invested $34 million in a computerized physician order entry system based on minimal physician input. Clinical staff revolted and the project was scrapped after three months. Savvy use of social media can not only help health IT leaders circumvent such losses but also build clinical buy-in, according to a June 7 presentation at the annual meeting of the Society for Imaging Informatics in Medicine (SIIM).

The Cedars-Sinai story is not uncommon, said Carl Miller, MD, of Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions in Baltimore. Clinical users are busy and reluctant to take the time to provide input during product demonstrations. The handful of physicians who do attend product demos often are not representative of the entire clinical staff.

However, one decade after the Cedars-Sinai debacle, Johns Hopkins forged a very different health IT project deployment when it invested in a new clinical viewer. The IT department engaged more than 300 users in the vendor selection process, resulting in a mandate for its proposed clinical viewer technology.

The secret to its success? Social media enabled crowdsourcing. Crowdsourcing, said Miller, is not a new concept. It connects people to accomplish a task.

Deciding on a clinical viewer was a challenge, said Miller. It’s a relatively new technology, and Johns Hopkins was unsure how clinicians would use it and which features were most important.

The IT department established a trio of goals: engage end users on their terms and schedules, determine users’ requirements and create excitement about the new technology.

After reviewing available vendors and selecting three viable candidates for onsite demonstrations, the department built a website to demonstrate each system and linked it to a database to collect feedback. Clinical users responded in droves, resulting in an informed investment.

Miller concluded, “We were able to understand users’ needs in a much more robust way, capture a clear voice in preference and invest end users in technology selection.” The department may have saved $34 million as well.