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Journal Article:

Author(s) :


Shortliffe, E. H.; Patel, V. L., Cimino, J., Barnett, O.G., and Greenes, R. A.

Date of Publication :



Article Title :


A study of collaboration among medical informatics research laboratories

Journal Title :


Artificial Intelligence in Medicine

Volume ID :



Pages(s) :



Abstract :


The InterMed Collaboratory involves five medical institutions (Stanford University, Columbia University, Brigham and Womenís Hospital, Massachusetts General Hospital, and McGill University) whose mandate has been to join in the development of shared infrastruc-tural software, tools, and system components that will facilitate and support the development of diverse, institution-specific applications. Collaboration among geographically distributed organizations with different goals and cultures provides significant challenges. One experi-mental

question, underlying all that InterMed has set out to achieve, is whether modern communication technologies can effectively bridge such cultural and geographical gaps, allowing the development of shared visions and cooperative activities so that the end results are greater than any one group could have accomplished on its own. In this paper we summarize the InterMed philosophy and mission, describe our progress over 3 years of collaborative activities, and present study results regarding the nature of the evolving collaborative processes, the perceptions of the participants regarding those processes, and the role that telephone conference calls have played in furthering project goals. Both informal introspection and more formal evaluative work, in which project participants became subjects of study by our evaluation experts from McGill, helped to shift our activities from relatively unfocused to more focused efforts while allowing us to understand the facilitating roles that communications technologies could play in our activities. Our experience and study results suggest that occasional face-to-face meetings are crucial precursors to the effective use of distance communications technologies; that conference calls play an important role in both task-related activities and executive (project management) activities, especially when clarifications are required; and that collaborative productivity is highly dependent upon the gradual development of a shared commitment to a well-defined task that leverages the varying expertise of both local and distant colleagues in the creation of tools of broad utility across the participating sites. © 1998 Elsevier Science B.V.

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  InterMed Collaboratory
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