Internet sites helpful for education: HPN readers

by Todd Shields

While spending four hours or less per week on the Internet is not unusual for material managers, they said too often hospital administrators restrict Internet access, thinking employees are surfing sites for non-business activities.

That belief, as well as others, was indicated in Healthcare Purchasing News' 2000 Reader Satisfaction Survey, in which material managers, infection control practitioners, central service coordinators and operating room managers were asked how much time they spent on the Internet.

Jack Anderson, material management consultant and owner of Material Resources Inc., Raleigh, NC, said in some cases only administrative employees use the Internet. "Some hospitals still believe that employees will abuse their access to the Internet, and they limit this capability," he said.

Big brother

John Siedlinski, of Materials Management Consultants Inc., Naperville, IL, said many information system (IS) departments at hospitals install "massive firewall security to review every outgoing and incoming message."

"Who wants big IS brother peering over your shoulder while you work?" he asked. He added that Internet sites such as ECRI's Web site and manufacturers' online price index are one of many resources for a material manager.

Trisha Barrett, an infection control manager at Alta Bates Medical Center, Berkeley, CA, said deep information-based Internet links are invaluable to her profession, but she would question the productivity of colleagues spending more than two to four hours a week in front of a computer.

She also said the Internet could be used more for staff training and competency tests if hospitals were better funded for information system infrastructure.

'Significant increase'

Diana Korpal, a consultant for Infection Control Concepts, Indianapolis, commented on the 88% of respondents who reported they spend some amount of time on the Internet "From three to four years ago, I would say that is a significant increase among my colleagues. I find [the Internet] extremely useful and also helpful," she said. She finds solid information on association, government agency and infection control news sites, she explained.

E-mail me

Neal E. Danielson, a central service consultant for D's Enterprise, Wichita, KS, said a large portion of the 56% of CS professionals who peruse the Internet two to four hours weekly may be e-mailing one another, while a smaller number could be reading Web sites. Accessing the Internet for communicating with colleagues on current issues, and especially educational forums, is its "number one benefit and a valuable management tool in central service," he said.






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