Background: Internet use has grown exponentially in the 12 years since public access became available. In a 2001 survey of Australian Anaesthetists, 97% had internet access at home or work. (1) Many medical practitioners see web sites as simple advertisements for a hospital. By providing a dynamic user specific “portal” to an entire department's activities and resources, considerable gains in workplace efficiency, safety and morale may be made.
Materials and Methods: St. George Hospital in Sydney, Australia has developed a departmental website, which has become an essential clinical and administrative tool. Some of its functions include: call rosters with the facility to make immediate changes; lists of departmental meetings; a messaging system; an email system; daily operating room allocations of surgical and anaesthetic teams; staff leave calendar; staff directory of contact numbers, pagers, mobiles and email addresses; publications and resources.
Results: A recent survey (December 2004) of all users (n = 60, 33 respondents) found 91% considered the website had improved the way they worked, 94% believed it saved them time, 76% believed that online patient alerts allowed them to be better prepared for complex patient presentations and 41% believed it reduced the chance of workplace errors. Local users log into the website on average every two days.
Discussion: A successful website requires content that is:
Dynamic: the content of the web site is generated every time it is viewed to reflect the “current” status. e.g. roster changes or meeting cancellations immediately shown.
User specific: what is seen is tailored to the person viewing it. e.g. when logged in the user is told when they are next on call or the subject of the next meeting.
User Editable: content is changed and expanded by users. e.g. users can arrange call exchanges which are immediately updated, and confirmatory emails automatically sent to the staff involved. Users can change their contact details; enter new messages, meetings or publications. Documents can be uploaded and stored using a filing system for easy access.
1 Jones C, Lambros M. Use of the internet for patient care: a nationwide survey of Australian anaesthetists. Anaesthesia & Intensive Care. 2003; 31(3): 290-293.