When did you start becoming involved in health IT?
I’ve been programming since the first personal computers were available over 30 years ago. Whilst a medical student I wrote programs that integrated a GP surgery’s software and developed revision aids. Later I wrote a paediatric resuscitation scenario builder and a rostering software
What led to you start your rostering software?
It began in 2001, when my then Emergency Department director was bemoaning the trials of devising a JMO roster which didn’t lead to a string of complaints about inequality, not meeting the current award or double-bookings. I thought a simple 6-step process might be the way to lead even the least savvy computer user through to a better roster. The Roster Wizard has been employed at about a dozen major hospitals, mainly in NSW, but also in Northern Territories, Queensland and the UK
Have you been involved in any other health IT projects?
A few. I developed a Paediatric Resuscitation Calculator for drug doses & equipment sizes and it has been extensively used at Sydney Children’s Hospital and now further afield. In 2011 I designed & built the Children’s Emergency Department website for the Mater Children’s Hospital in Brisbane and am now trying to revitalise the Sydney Children’s Emergency Department intranet site. I have also ‘donated’ my revision notes (~350 topics) for the ACEM Part II exam, which I try to keep updated on my own embarrassingly under-constructed site (ambonsall.com). I also write little web calculators for topics such as Burns fluids, Paediatric Growth centiles, and DKA fluids
Don’t you find implementing health IT in hospitals is a bureaucratic nightmare?
The three main issues I have encountered are: the meeting merrygoround that seems necessary to get anything approved; hospitals with their own IT departments can show some resentment and obstruction; and getting paid for professional work done whilst holding on to one’s intellectual property can be problematic
What do you enjoy most about health IT?
I really enjoy programming and breaking down the problem in a logical manner. To me building my own software is a creative outlet, even if many other programmers have done it similarly in the past.
What are you careers aims for the next 10 years?
I would like to have the time and resources to tackle another couple of large projects. The current solutions to the Electronic Medical Record that I have used in emergency departments are slow, needlessly complicated, do not appear to save time for clinicians who have to input the data in real life practice, and have problems with integration with other hospital systems
What is the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
Don’t give interviews