When end-users are involved in major IT decision-making from the beginning, IT projects are bound to succeed.
That is the principle that Mississauga, Ont.-based Trillium Health Centre adopted when it embarked on a seven-year, $100-million IT restructuring project dubbed, Transforming Healthcare into Integrated Networks of Knowledge (THINK).
“Our clinicians make the decisions as to the clinical systems that they want so they can deliver what they need, and every way through this journey they will make those decisions,” said Wayne Mills, Trillium CIO and vice-president of information systems.
It is critical, therefore, to design a flexible and open architecture, serving all users across various applications with highly available, real-time information, Mills said.
A study released by Ottawa-based Branham Group revealed a considerable number of health care professionals are feeling left out of technology innovations that improve patient care.
Sixty-eight per cent of nurses and physicians surveyed felt health care providers are not sufficiently involved in developing IT strategies for their institutions.
“What we’re trying to do is give (health care professionals) the control they need. Technology will become the enabler because (we will) have the architecture that allows us to move to a new system when we need to,” said Mills.
Trillium’s THINK project aims to build a service-oriented architecture that will allow it to re-use some of its existing systems and applications, integrate them with new technologies, and create an interoperable IT infrastructure that allows users – health care providers, patients and their families – to access and share information for more accurate decision-making and patient care.
Trillium signed on eight technology partners for the THINK project, headed by Armonk, N.Y.-based IBM Corp. as project manager and integrator. Other partners include Eclipsys for clinical system applications, Cognos for business intelligence, Sybase for database architecture and EMC for data storage. These partners, Mills said, are working closely with hospital staff in developing the whole infrastructure.
The hospital is using IBM’s WebSphere technology and eServer xSeries servers to build the open architecture and facilitate the integration of old and new applications into a single, secured network for information collaboration and communication.
“Health care in Canada and in other countries is pretty much siloed. We have to create integrated services and break those silos down,” said Mills. Trillium’s software systems integration will be undertaken in stages. The first phase is integration of the hospital’s Admit, Discharge and Transfer system and the MediTech test result records program with the Eclipsys Sunrise Clinical Manager system. The next step is enabling the interchange of practitioner order entry information among multiple applications, according to IBM. Trillium just recently completed the design and creation of the THINK architecture as well as the methodologies for implementing the seven-year project, said Mills.
One of the first things that Trillium initiated was the drafting of a “principle-based agreement” with partners and stakeholders to set the guidelines that would govern the whole implementation, said Mills. “The agreement is as much a part of the architecture as the technology aspect…promoting openness, honesty and collaboration.”
Dan Sholler, vice-president at analyst firm Gartner Inc., said the main challenge of enabling effective sharing of information and technology is trust. An organization implementing SOA – which is basically founded on shared services across business processes – needs to “formalize the knowledge of sharing.”
“For re-usable services to be re-used, the consumers must agree and trust each other and the provider,” Sholler said during a recent SOA forum hosted by IBM.