Reviews of Educational Material
Anesthesia Informatics. Edited by Jerry Stonemetz, M.D., and Keith Ruskin, M.D. London, Springer Verlag, 2008. Pages: 504. Price: $79.95.
The information and technology age brings enormous possibilities and challenges to the individual health practitioner and institutions alike. As a discipline, anesthesia is well recognized as an area of healthcare uniquely positioned to derive maximal benefit from informatics technology. However, increasing systems capabilities are paralleled by similarly increasing technical complexities, and while many of us comfortably dabble in the world of technology there are few who would consider themselves experts. Anesthesia Informatics is a multiauthored text that explicitly targets readers who have recently purchased or are in the market to purchase an anesthesia information management system. It provides a well-structured and extremely comprehensive look at the many different aspects of the relationship between information management systems and modern anesthesia.
The opening chapters provide a compelling rationale for implementing such a system, along with a detailed description of the mechanics of the entire process from conception to delivery, installation, “go-live,” and the all-important after-sales support. It is written in a conversational and at times humorous style by authors who are self-confessed zealots of the anesthesia information management system. The chapters that follow become more technical and may be of greatest use to a multidisciplinary readership who, the authors argue, play important roles in the decision-making involved in purchases such as these.
The text illustrates well the high-level complexity of these systems, demanding multiple sources of expertise at every stage of planning and implementation. While acknowledging that the greatest penetration of these systems to date has been in academic medical centers, the case is strongly argued that implementation can add value across all types of anesthesia practice. The authors consistently and wisely stress the need for systems to be customized at every stage to derive the greatest benefit. The final section of the book addresses the role of handheld devices, wireless technology, device convergence, and simulation in anesthesia. While much of this is interesting, easy to read, and should appeal to the general reader, it is perhaps of less direct relevance for those contemplating the purchase of an anesthesia information management system.
The book serves as an excellent introduction to the potential role as well as the complexities and potential pitfalls of this technology. Although the discussion of billing and legal issues surrounding use of this technology is heavily U.S.-focused, this represents only a small component of the book, which should otherwise appeal to an international audience. Perhaps ironically in a book addressing efficient information capture, transfer, and storage, there remains a degree of redundancy in content across several chapters. However, I would highly recommend it as a useful addition for those with a role in implementing or improving the use of information technology within an anesthesia department or group.
David R. McIlroy, M.D., MClinEpi, F.A.N.Z.C.A.
Columbia University, New York, New York. email@example.com
© 2009 American Society of Anesthesiologists, Inc.