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Project management

Diane Beattie discusses key aspects of regional PACS

By H. Dominic Covvey and Shirley Fenton

Diane Beattie (pictured at left) delivered the second of this year’s Smarter Health Seminar Series lectures at the University of Waterloo. Diane is Vice President of Integrated Health Information for both London Health Sciences Centre and St. Joseph’s Healthcare, London. She emphasized that it’s possible to achieve significant technological innovation across many hospitals in a region, but your approach to the human and organizational issues will determine a major portion of your success.

Video is available at, see the Presentation Archive.

Diane’s talk, “Getting to Filmless”, outlined the success of the Thames Valley Hospital Planning Partnership in Southwestern Ontario in implementing a Picture Archiving and Communications System (PACS) across eight hospitals.

Diane made it clear that, in a project like this, excellent technological decisions are essential, but stressed that other factors will be equally important for the technology to be accepted and utilized to the benefit of patients and care providers. These factors include team building, engagement, common ambition and motivation – all of which must be addressed throughout the initiative.

The team members must have a common purpose and the work they do must be driven by the business needs of the enterprise, not the information technology.

Whatever the plateaus reached by the team members as they work to achieve their goals, they cannot just rest on their laurels. They need to circle back again and again to deal with all the issues. There is a process of setting directions, doing things, going back and refining, doing more things, and repeating the cycle.

Throughout this process, communication is essential at all levels, and the focus of communication is on effecting and managing change. Time to celebrate milestones and successes along the way, no matter how small, is important. Finally, all of this is built on strong partnerships with implementers and vendors, and between the implementers and senior management.

In looking at the Thames Valley PACS project we actually see a business. It seems to us that the success of Diane and her colleagues stems directly from running the PACS project like an innovative business.

They have moved step-by-step from establishing a vision and setting valued goals, to developing plans, to delivering systems, to weaving them into a new workflow fabric. As with a business, they won’t even start to be satisfied until they deliver value to their customers and achieve the impacts that they seek.

As in a forward-thinking business, Diane and her colleagues aim at continuous innovation – in technology, usage, workflow and in the effects they achieve.

As Diane emphasized, people are the secret ingredients in a successful ICT program. Without the team, the vision, the goals, the motivation, the stroking, the communication, and the change processes, the technology is powerless. Without due regard for the people involved in technology projects, failures, so common in this field, are often the result.