There are a number of intangibles that cannot be quantified monetarily but taken together lead to better outcomes for patients through improved delivery of care. The most obvious benefit to clinicians is the automatic collection of vital signs, so that the anesthesiologist can focus on patient care. Patient safety can be further improved as the AIMS has the ability to provide warnings about drug interactions and appropriate dosing as well as potential issues with transfusion of blood products. One of the greatest advantages of an AIMS is the decision support algorithms that serve to guide providers toward evidence-based best practices. For instance, evaluation with a preoperative algorithm can be used to take histories and suggest laboratory tests that optimize resource utilization and reduce surgical cancellations. In addition, an AIMS can help to ensure that providers comply with quality of care (pay-for-performance) initiatives, such as beta-blocker and antibiotic administration. With the tremendous amount of data available for mining, providers can receive valuable feedback about the quality and safety of the care they deliver. Lastly, the AIMS provides much improved documentation over the paper record, resulting in an accurate, legible representation of the anesthetic given. This has significant value in the area of risk management and can be critical in litigation support.
Implementing an AIMS involves significant investment, both financially and in terms of human resources. A typical AIMS installation will involve both hardware and software that interfaces with the intraoperative patient monitors. The upfront costs include software licenses and extensive hardware needs, such as workstations, input devices and monitors, and network costs. Human costs involve professional systems analysts, implementation experts, and educators as well as user training and loss of productivity during implementation. Ongoing costs include staffing costs for IT professionals, system maintenance agreements and upgrades (hardware and software), as well as the anesthesia information director’s nonclinical time to administer and enhance the system. Electronic health records, and specifically AIMS, add value, promote safety and result in improved outcomes for the patient, clinician, and the hospital.