January 26, 2001

Users plug into MyVandy

Featured Image

Dorothy and Beryl Arvin celebrate the positive effects of a new cancer drug being tested at Vanderbilt. (photo by Dana Johnson)

Users plug into MyVandy

Vanderbilt University Medical Center runs on information. According to Dr. Ed Shultz, associate professor of Biomedical Informatics and director of Information Technology Integration, there are some 1,200 recurring reports and forms used in the administration of research and patient care at VUMC.

Payroll action forms, purchasing forms and other tools of routine administration move through the system in all directions, passed from hand to hand.

Research administrators and hospital and clinic managers pore over daily, weekly, monthly and quarterly reports concerning everything from financial results and productivity to clinical and operational quality.

The individual staff or faculty member is apt to have difficulty keeping track of all the available information. “In a sea of information, few people know all the good fishing spots,” Shultz said.

Printing diverse reports and placing them in the hands of their intended users involves substantial costs in labor and hardware. There’s also apt to be a good deal of redundancy; for example, there are 17 separately maintained data bases that purport to list all VUMC faculty members.


Every large organization has these information management problems, Shultz said, and two solutions are now emerging among the nation’s top companies.

One solution is Web-format intranet portals that can be customized by the individual user to supply easy access to diverse information.

The other solution involves information about information, so-called metadata repositories that can help govern the distribution of information resources within a company.

Information management, the department that generates many of VUMC’s internal reports, is using these strategies to improve and streamline communication. Shultz gives credit for the project to Annette Savage, health systems data base analyst, and Mark Dodd, systems software specialist. Their solution is called MyVandy, a name that borrows from the well known Web portal, My Yahoo.

“The purpose of MyVandy is to supply the right information to the right people at the right time,” Shultz said. The project currently involves a few hundred users spread across the hospital, clinic, and research enterprise. Approximately 50 users are being added each month.

Push, pull, subscribe

From anywhere on the globe, VUMC email sign-on is the only requirement for access to MyVandy. (All staff and faculty should have a Lotus Notes e-mail account, which allows VUMC e-mail sign-on; if you don’t have an account see your supervisor.) Users needn’t alter their current e-mail setup because MyVandy is designed to appear the same whether accessed through the Lotus Notes client or through a Web browser.

The MyVandy user interface is a window or information portal in which titles appear that link to reports and documents – word processing files, Web pages, spread sheets files, graphics files, etc.

Which documents appear depends on the user’s information needs. The user may subscribe to periodic reports as well as pull information from the system as it’s needed. MyVandy also allows VUMC (and soon its departments) to push selected information to selected audiences. One side of the portal is controlled and customized by the user while the other side is devoted to information pushed to the user by the organization.

In addition to current and archived VUMC reports, the user’s personalized area of MyVandy can deliver links to the latest issues of online journals and other resources available through the Eskind Biomedical Library, as well as Web links to regional and national health care information. The user receives automatic notification whenever updated information becomes available.

Confidentiality protection is built into every part. The system collects information about each report – a description of the report, who owns the data, and how often the information is updated. Users in search of information can browse this metadata and pull any reports for which they have clearance. Data owners send report updates to information management, which verifies all reports before posting. The system controls access to reports by individual user, role/job title, and group membership.

MyVandy today offers around 60 reports on VUMC clinical quality, financial results and market performance, as well as documents and links to broader health care information. The available reports will eventually expand to include items such as educational resources, research bulletins and departmental notices.

MyVandy may ultimately be integrated with other projects aimed at smoothing communication at VUMC. Vanderbilt Medical Group, as part of its move over the next three years to a paperless system, is constructing a new user-friendly desktop to integrate access to electronic order entry, medical records and other clinical systems. There’s also an initiative underway to revamp the desktop found on clinical workstations throughout VUMC.

Anyone who has a VUMC e-mail account can use MyVandy. Information is available at www.myvandy.mc.vanderbilt.edu/myvandyinfo.nsf. For more information contact Shultz via mcmail or at 2-2115.