Your anaesthesia co-pilot

October 25, 2014

Anaesthesia Information Management Systems (AIMS) are becoming increasingly common in operating theaters around the globe.   As people become aware of the impact AIMS can have on work flow and the ability to run operating theaters efficiently and effectively their popularity grows.

What is an Anaesthesia Information Management System (AIMS)?

AIMS is a combination of hardware and software that facilitates the collection, storage, retrieval and interpretation of physiological and event data peri-operatively.

Why use AIMS?

  • Provides consistent, legible, reliable, unbiased and high resolution data
  • Allows the clinician to spend their time making clinical judgements and looking after the patient, as opposed to data logging
  • Facilitates the recording of quality measures that would otherwise be difficult and expensive to perform, ultimately leading to improved performance
  • Through algorithms AIMS can provide real-time decision support tools that prompt clinicians to follow best practice.
  • Provides feedback to individuals
  • Assess operating room efficiency
  • Can provide automatic notification regarding patient flow
  • Improves handover which is critical for patient care
  • Facilitates quality research
  • Reduces billing mistakes – it is estimated 10% of potential revenue is lost due to billing mistakes

No overall cost-benefit analysis has been done on AIMS, however there are many studies in the literature that highlight and quantify some of the benefits of AIMS. For example;

  • One study found compliance with surgical antibiotic prophylaxis guidelines improved from 70% to 92% with the implementation of an AIMS
  • Another study found the percentage of high risk post-operative nausea and vomiting patients treated with prophylaxis improved from 38% to 73% with the implementation of AIMS and fell back to 37% when the AIMS was removed
  • In one centre AIMS was used to record drug wastage, where it was found 26% of its annual drug expenditure was going in the bin. Consequently smaller unit volumes were suggested to reduce costs
  • One centre used their AIMS system to reduce the average aesthetic cost from $56 to $32 per case, resulting in significant savings

Why don’t all operating theaters use AIMS?

  • Financial barrier; there is a large initial capital investment required
  • Complexity of installation
  • Perceived lack of benefit
  • As with all technologies AIMS has some limitations and these need to be acknowledged and strategies in place to overcome them

Reference: Chau A, Ehrenfeld J (2011) Using Real Time Clinical Decision Support to Improve Performance on Perioperative Quality and Process Measures in Anesthesiol Clin. 2011 March ; 29(1): 57–69  (

Posted in Blog by Douglas Fahlbusch