By the end of 2014, AIMS use by academic practices will be 75% and between 2018 and 2020, that number will rise to about 85%.  (Image source: Thinkstock)

By the end of 2014, AIMS use by academic practices will be 75% and between 2018 and 2020, that number will rise to about 85%. (Image source: Thinkstock)

Do you use an anesthesia information management system (AIMS) to import vital signs into your anesthesia record? Do you work in a program that has anesthesia residents?  Conversely, are you in a private practice that does not have an AIMS and have had difficulty hiring recent graduates?

Dr. Richard H. Epstein, Department of Anesthesiology, Jefferson Medical College, Philadelphia, PA and colleagues from the Departments of Anesthesiology, Bioinformatics, and Surgery, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee, and Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee, recently surveyed anesthesiology programs to examine the adoption rates of AIMS technology.  The results of their study are published in this month’s edition of Anesthesia & Analgesia in the article titled “Technology Diffusion of Anesthesia Information Management Systems into Academic Anesthesia Departments in the United States.”

The authors surveyed programs accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education.  Those who didn’t respond eventually were reached by phone or email so that all 130 accredited programs were surveyed. Eighty-seven (67%) of programs were currently using an AIMS. An additional ten programs indicated they would adopt AIMS by the end of 2014.  As a result, AIMS use in US academic practices will be 75% by the end of 2014.  Adoption of AIMS between 1987 and 2004 was sluggish. However, it has greatly accelerated since 2004.

AIMS adoption by nonacademic anesthesia practices has been much slower. One might wonder about the charting accuracy of residents only vaguely familiar with paper charting when they go into a (private) practice that still uses paper charting.  At the same time, paper-based anesthesia practices might compete poorly for top anesthesia program graduates accustomed to AIMS.  Along these same lines, one might also wonder about the desirability of departments in other Western countries where AIMS adoption is low. For example, in 2010 AIMS implementation in Europe was a relatively meager 15%.

This is a thought-provoking manuscript that should appeal to those in both academic and private practices struggling with the challenges imposed by ever advancing technology. AIMS technology has created two very different modes of practice within in our specialty.