entering the electronic age

This week at work, the whole hospital went live with electronic charting.  Yup, that's right, the whole hospital...all at once.  For several months we have been taking classes and attempting to learn the new system.  I was one of the lucky "super users." That means that I got to learn it first, and am supposed to help everyone else troubleshoot as they learn the system.Let me tell you...it wasn't very much fun.  At 0001 on 2/26, the entire hospital switched over.  At first it was kind of like Y2K, we all stood around and waited for something to happen.  Nothing happened.  Well, nothing obvious.  Then we started trying to actually do things.  First, we discovered that the machine that we get our medications out of was resetting itself (a 10-20 minute process).  That meant that we could not get any medications out...which is all fine and dandy until an emergency walks through the door (which happens more often than you might think).  As the night went on, we slowly discovered more and more things that didn't work the way they were supposed to. As for those of us lucky enough to be "super users," we spent the night trying to help everyone who had a patient keep up with their charting.  Thank goodness we weren't busy and there were lots of nurses around to help.  The second night was much worse than the first.  Things worked a little better, but there was a lot of frustration because this system has changed our workflow a little.  And sometimes, change brings out the worst in people.  I spent the whole night holding the hands of a few nurses who apparently couldn't wrap their heads around the fact that the job is still the same...the "paperwork" is still the same, just a different format. I always thought it was a bad idea to roll the whole thing out at the same time.  Apparently the hospital knew it was going to suck too because they kept us stocked in snacks and inspirational messages.  Each unit has a theme...ours is Finding Nemo and the "motto" is "just keep swimming."  Yeah, that's subtle. The biggest problem is that the hospital didn't fork out enough money to have the whole system customized.  My understanding is that they bought the generic system and then paid their own people to customize it.  I realize that they spent a whole bunch of money to get the system in the first place (I've heard several different numbers, but they have all been in the 10+ million dollars).  This is a prime example of what I like to call the "{Unamed} Hosptial Difference." (For the sake of my job I will refrain from naming the hospital...if you know...great.  If not, it's not important.) They spend a lot of money to do something, but not quite enough to do it right (or make it work the way we need it to work). I just hope people stop freaking out and remember to take care of their patients.  My suggestion is if you live in Anchorage, don't get sick and need to go to the hospital for the next few weeks...