The Medical Director's Desk
Information, Please: We've Got Your Needs in Mind
Psychiatric News
Volume 40 Number 7 page 4-4

FIG1 APA's Information Technology (IT) Department provides technology support for broad-based business, information, and service objectives within APA. Its major project now is implementation of a new core customer-relationship management system, TMA Resources Inc. Integrated Membership Services Solution (TIMSS).

This new system will integrate the information systems of most APA's departments and divisions, significantly improving the consistency and reporting of data, as well as streamlining business processes.

With TIMSS, we will be able to roll out new and improved functionality to the Members Corner area of our Web site. For example, members will be able to manage and update much more of their member record directly. Members will also have the capability to view and pay dues statements online, eliminating the need for paper statements. Eventually, TIMSS will allow members to manage their subscriptions and use a greatly enhanced online annual meeting registration feature.

Moreover, district branch staff will have direct access to member management, reporting, member-profile management, list management, and other functions that are currently not available. The IT staff is collaborating with district branch executives to define requirements and identify opportunities for improved operations between them and APA.

TIMSS will be implemented in three phases over the next couple of years, with the first phase due to be completed this summer. This first phase will affect the Membership Department, Accounts Receivable, and the Answer Center.

Phase two will extend functionality to Division of Advocacy, Department of Public Affairs and Communications, and most of the Division of Education and Career Development.

The final phase will integrate TIMSS with American Psychiatric Publishing Inc., Annual Meetings Department, and American Psychiatric Foundation.

In addition to the IT department, the TIMSS implementation is supported by the Finance, Membership, Governance, and Answer Center departments, as well as by the Ad Hoc Work Group on Information Systems.

Work on the first phase is going well, with staff testing the initial data conversion into TIMSS. This marks the end of an extensive effort organized by the IT department with extraordinary help from Vanessa Dea in the Membership Department. Vanessa spearheaded the analysis of the current membership database, which consists of more than 600 tables and 1,400 data elements.

Sreeni Reddy, database administrator, performed another amazing feat: his programming skills saved 40 workdays of tedious data entry. We will continue testing this initial conversion and begin customizing.

On other fronts, we celebrated the successful transition to the first phase of an improved registration system for the annual meeting this year. The system permits attendees to handle the majority of registration activities in advance, which should result in considerably shorter check-in lines at the meeting.

The IT department is working with the Annual Meetings Department and the Division of Education and Career Development on other ways to improve your experience at the annual meeting. One is the overhaul of the messaging system to integrate it more fully with the registration database. Another is an update of the application that generates the CME certificates so that members can continue to get a printout on site or e-mail them home in digital form to create printouts whenever needed.

Also new this year is the online collaboration portal being used to facilitate research ideas and tracking for DSM-V. The IT department, working with APA's research staff, deployed a sophisticated system for sharing and tracking input for the future of DSM. This system uses Microsoft's Share-Point services to allow contributors from all around the world to work together in an efficient and cost-effective manner. Based on the success in this area, the department is exploring other ways to use the Share-Point system.

Finally, the IT department is working on a new member benefit: discounts on computer purchases. In collaboration with Dell Computers, APA will be able to extend Dell's Employee Purchase Program (now available to APA staff) to all members. When the program is in place, we will provide details in the Members Corner area of our Web site.

As always, we like to hear from you. Please feel free to contact us with your ideas. ▪

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