Patient Informatics

11. Faults, managing housekeeping, on-call and informatics support / administration

When I.T. systems of any degree of complexity are stressed, or are used by relatively unfamiliar individuals faults are more common. A standard operating procedure for raising and resolving faults should be adopted, ideally through a single point of contact to ensure there is co-ordination for rapid response.

In a smaller environment, this could be performed through a database or spreadsheet but if there are multiple users then electronic tools could be used to provide tracking across multiple responsible owners and shifts.

If spreadsheets or paper documents are to be used collaboratively then procedure for managing and reconciling these files needs to be developed to ensure that as documents are amended it is on a shared copy not a local copy. A minimum data set also needs to be agreed so that if a user develops a fault but is unable to contact anyone immediately then they know what information to collect and record for later action.

24/7 operation of informatics support should be considered in larger environments – remembering that an extra hour in fixing a critical I.T. issue may cause increased deaths or backlogs exponentially to that expected in normal operation.

As with all non-standard operations, more frequent backups of imaging data is expected, and having plans and the supplies in place to support this is helpful.

Standard plans for informatics teams such include the layers of escalation if a senior administrator became themselves incapacitated (does anyone else have server access / administrative passwords etc.?), as well as revised shift patterns for any extended support hours working, allowing for sufficient time for rest and respite.