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June 03, 2010

Innovative Tools for Busy Doctors


In many offices, doctors are scheduled to see patients every 15 minutes. According to a recent report in Health Affairs, a journal on health policy, primary physicians are spending more than 3 hours a week just interacting with insurance companies and health plans. Of course that doesn’t count the almost 20 hours a week spent by nursing staff or the 36 hours spent by clerical staff in similar interactions and in managing patient records. In absence of a longer day, clearly doctors need some time saving tools. At the HIMSS conference in Atlanta, I met with two innovative companies working to save doctor’s time and money and while improving patient care.

The first company is called Shareable Ink. The idea behind the company’s innovation is simple but the technology is cutting edge. Standard forms, familiar to physicians, are printed on digital paper. The doctor uses a special pen which has a small camera imbedded in it. When the digital pen interacts with the paper, it creates a digital copy. The digital form can be a picture with the doctor’s handwriting or, using recognition technology, can be instantaneously transcribed to text. Shareable Ink is offered as a hosted solution so no on-site software needs to be loaded and maintained. 

Once a form has been completed, it interfaces easily with existing hospital information systems. It can be pre-printed with patient information or any special alerts particular to the patient. Shareable Ink leverages existing hospital EHR systems by providing a data input tool that does not hamper physician productivity. It is quick and easy to put into practice as there are no changes to work flows and training physicians takes only minutes. According to Dr. Vernon Huang, chief medical officer, Shareable Ink is currently in use in the Anesthesia Department at Mills Hospital in Burlingame, Calif. and has plans to expand to hospitals across the country.

Another company offering innovative time-saving solutions for care providers is PatientKeeper. According to Kathy Ruggiero, director of corporate marketing at Patient Keeper, the company’s product “automates the life of a physician, saves them time, improves cash flow and allows the doctor to focus on helping patients.”
PatientKeeper interfaces with all hospital systems and pulls the data together in a comprehensive and user friendly interface for the doctor. The suite of products includes 13 applications which cover clinical, financial and documentation process and work together to support the existing workflow. In keeping with Meaningful Use requirements, PatientKeeper automates computerized physician order entry and includes voice recognition technology.
Of particular note, though, is that PatientKeeper extends its capabilities to smart phones and can be used on all wireless platforms including iPhone (News - Alert), Android, Blackberry and Windows Mobile—and even the iPad. This means a doctor can review his or her schedule, get real time lab results, and have access to the patient’s electronic medical records in any location. Last year, Manhattan Research reported that 64 percent of doctors are using some type of smart phone and with the recent launch of iPad that number is sure to rise. Doctor friendly, time saving applications like PatientKeeper provide a tool for healthcare providers to re-balance the time and effort currently spent on creating and retrieving medical records.

Robin Wright is a consultant with more than 20 years of experience in the IT and telecom industries. To read more of her articles, please visit please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Michael Dinan

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