Keyboard alternatives appeal to docs

By Healthcare IT News
03:05 PM

Physicians turn to technology to boost productivity

NASHVILLE, TN – An Electronic Health Record doesn’t accomplish much if providers are reluctant to use it. That’s why there are many new companies helping to spur EHR adoption by providing easy-to-use alternatives to keyboard data entry.

“Clinical documentation doesn’t lend itself to keyboard entry,” said Steve Hau, president of Shareable Ink in Nashville, Tenn. “You need all these drop-down menus that are unwieldy – and doctors aren’t court stenographers.” Shareable Ink offers technology that lets doctors use a digital pen with a built-in laser camera to scan and capture notes, which then get turned into text that flows directly into designated fields in an EHR.

The Shareable Ink solution – also available as a new iPad app – can also replace check-in kiosks. “At the front desk, our patients get a clipboard with a preprinted form and an ordinary looking pen that happens to have a camera,” said Sheila Tonn-Knopf, director of the Center for Orthopedics in Sheffield Village, Ohio.

“Most check-in kiosks capture only contact and insurance information, not meaningful use data on things like smoking cessation. But with Shareable Ink, the patient-generated information gets captured and flows directly to our EHR. Without this automation, we would have needed to add three full-time employees in our front office,” she said.

While some physicians prefer handwritten notes, others are more comfortable with dictation. “Most EHRs are designed for primary care physicians, not specialists,” said Bill Brown, CEO of Entrada in Brentwood, Tenn., which offers a digital dictation system utilizing voice recognition. “Our technology helps all physicians – but particularly specialists – increase revenue and productivity without working an extra two hours each day doing keyboard entry.”

Voice-recognition software has become so swift and accurate that they are rapidly replacing transcriptionists.

With an Entrada system, a physician dictates into a digital recorder using special voice tags. “After the doctor dictates, within minutes we can generate a finished text which requires only a quick read by what we call an ‘editor’, who makes a few minor corrections and you’re good to go,” said Brown. “But an even bigger benefit is that the data then flows directly into the correct fields in the EHR.”

“When I use Entrada technology, I just dictate ‘Tag chief complaint’ and say a few words, then it turns into text that automatically gets placed exactly where it’s needed in the EHR,” said William Edwards, Jr., a vascular surgeon at St. Thomas Hospital in Nashville. “For specialists, the biggest drawback with most EHRs is the inability to add a narrative into the note. The referring physician wants to get my thoughts about a patient, and the Entrada solution makes that easy.”

Physicians are also excited by the revolution under way in mobile access. “Telemedicine has for decades offered remote access, which is very different from mobile access,” said Bruce Brandes, executive vice president of AirStrip Technologies, with offices in San Antonio, Texas and Franklin, Tenn. “Physicians are inherently on the go, and seldom found in a telemedicine bunker. Mobile devices have changed dramatically just in the last year alone, with breakthroughs in transmission quality, network bandwidth and the quality of bidirectional cameras. So there’s really no need to equip an expensive telemedicine facility when doctors can stay connected with a mobile device.”

AirStrip products are boosting productivity in a variety of specialties, including obstetrics and cardiology. “Our OB/GYN product solves a major problem: how to safely and successfully deliver babies when the physician can’t immediately be at the bedside,” said Brandes. “With our technology, the doctor can see the baby’s heart tracing and the mother’s contraction patterns right on a mobile phone.” AirStrip has discovered that many physicians want both an iPhone and iPad version – one for when they’re on the move, the other when they have more time and can take advantage of the iPad’s additional screen space.

Because digital pens, dictation devices, and mobile phones are so easy to use, healthcare organizations can use them to dramatically reduce the cost of EHR training. “Training doctors to enter EHR notes on a computer is very expensive and time-consuming,” said Hau. “That type of training is often more expensive than the software itself.”