I was invited to use one of the PCs whenever I wanted, and given some tuition in the mysteries of dBase. It quickly became clear that this was an ideal system in which to manage the key clinical information that I had been obsessively collecting in notebooks.
Over the next five years, a large amount of pacing, cardiac catheterisation and cardiac surgery data was entered into the Administration PC. In those days PC disk space was tiny by comparison to modern computers, and wherever possible, data was coded.
In 1985, it was time for Cardiology to have its own computer, and for the princely sum of $17,004.00, an IBM PC AT with 512K RAM and a 20MB hard disk was purchased, together with an Epson FX100 printer. In addition, dBase III software was acquired. This stand-alone system served the department for the next few years, but I was keen to make the information stored more accessible to all cardiologists.
Accordingly, in January 1990 a local area network of eight PCs was installed, this being the first LAN in clinical use in the hospital. Each cardiologist had a PC in their office and, using a series of customised reports, could access clinical information about their patients. The total cost of this new system was $41,467.00.
The LAN became redundant in 1997 with the roll-out of a hospital-wide network to support the first version of computerised medical records, the ill-fated SMS system. Subsequently there have been progressive improvements in delivering clinical information to clinicians.