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Improving the EHR Interface and Topol Saves Patient’s Life on Flight Home

As I thought through my day at HIMSS, a theme started to emerge from all the dozens of meetings I’ve already had at the show (with many more still to come). The theme I saw coming out was ways to improve the EHR interface. This is a much needed change in EHR’s, so it was interesting to see a whole series of companies working on ways to make the EHR interface better. Here are some of the highlights from companies I talked to at HIMSS.

SwiftKey – While the SwiftKey product can be used in the consumer space as well, it was interesting to see the technology applied to healthcare. SwiftKey is basically a replacement for your mobile device keyboard. In fact, I’d call SwiftKey a smart keyboard for your mobile device. What does it do to make your mobile device keyboard smart?

First, it offers word suggestions you can easily choose as you start to type. Most people are familiar with this base functionality because it exists in some form in most mobile keyboards (or at least it does on my Android). However, they’ve taken it a couple steps further. They actually use the context of what you’ve typed to predict what word you may want to type next. For example, if you type, “nausea and” then it predicts that you’ll want to type vomiting. If you type “urinary” then it will predict tract and then infection. Plus, they told me their algorithm will also learn your own colloquial habits. Kind of reminds me of Dragon voice recognition that learns your voice over time. SwiftKey learns your language habits over time.

I’m sure some of these predictive suggestions could lead to some hilarious ones, but it’s an interesting next step in the virtual keyboards we have on mobile devices. I’ll be interested to hear from doctors about what they think of the SwiftKey keyboard when it’s integrated with the various EHR iPad apps.

M*Modal and Intermountain – Thinking back on the demos and products I’ve seen at HIMSS 2013, I think that the app M*Modal has created for Intermountain might be the coolest I’ve seen so far. In this app, a doctor would say an order for a prescription, and the M*Modal technology would apply voice recognition and then parse the words into the appropriate CPOE order fields. It was pretty impressive to see it in action. Plus, the time difference between speaking the order and trying to manually select the various order fields on the mobile device was incredible.

I was a little disappointed it was only a demo system, but it sounds like Intermountain is still doing some work on their end to make the CPOE happen. I’m also quite interested to see if a simple mobile app like this will see broad adoption or if more features will need to be added to get the wide adoption. However, it was almost like magic to see it take a recorded voice and convert it into 5-7 fields on the screen. I’d be interested to see the accuracy of the implementation across a large set of doctors, but the possibilities are quite interesting for transforming the CPOE interface.

Cerner Mobile – One of the new Cerner ambulatory EHR features is an iPad interface for the doctor. I’m sure that many will think this is old news since so many other iPad EHR interfaces are out there. In some ways it is, but there was a slickness to their app that I hadn’t seen a lot of places. In fact, the demo of their ambulatory EHR iPad app reminded me a lot of the features that I saw in this video Jonathan Dreyer from Nuance created (bottom video) that demonstrated some of the mobile voice capabilities. Plus, the app had a nice workflow and some crazy simple features like doing a refill. One swipe and the med was refilled. Almost makes it too easy.

Canon – This is a little different than some of the other EHR interface things I talk about above. In the case of Canon it was interesting to see the tight integration that’s possible between the Canon scanners and EHR software. Instead of the often laborious process of scanning to your EHR and assigning it to a patient, Canon has a scan direct to EMR option including analyzing the cover sheet to have the scanned document attached to the right patient and EHR chart location. While we’d all love to have paper gone, it will be a part of healthcare for the forseeable future. The scan direct to EMR is a pretty awesome feature.

Those are a number of the EHR interface things that I’ve seen so far at HIMSS. I’m sure there are dozens of others out there as well. I think this is a great trend. Sure, each of these things is only a small incremental change, but with hundreds of EHR vendors all doing small incremental changes we’re going to see great things. That’s good, because many of the current EHR interfaces are terribly unusable.

In an related topic, Eric Topol gave a keynote address at HIMSS today. He had glowing reviews from what I could tell. Although, what’s an even more powerful story is to see the message he shared at HIMSS in action. On Topol’s flight home to San Diego a patient was having some medical issue. He did the ECG right on the plane using his smartphone and the passenger was able to make it safely to the destination. You can read the full story here. What’s even more amazing is that this is the second time something like this has happened to Topol. This probably means he flies too much, but also is an incredible illustration of the mHealth technology at work. Truly amazing!

Full Disclosure: Cerner and Canon are advertisers on this site.

March 5, 2013 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 15 blogs containing almost 5000 articles with John having written over 2000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 9.3 million times. John also recently launched two new companies: InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com, and is an advisor to docBeat. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and Google Plus.

“Non Structured Data Is More Valuable to Practitioners Than Discrete Research Oriented Data”

In my post on the EHR Bubble, Don B offered this strong statement:

“Recognizing the non-structured information is more valuable to the practitioner than discrete researcher oriented data.”

I love people that make strong statements and this is no exception. This is a comment that will no doubt hit people the wrong way when you consider how much focus things like meaningful use have focused on discrete data. I can already hear the chorus of doctors asking why meaningful use wants all this discrete data if the non-structured data is where the value is for practitioners.

There are a lot of nuances at work that are worth discussing. I agree with Don B that at this point in time the non-structured information is more valuable to a physician than the discrete data. I’d also extend that comment to say that non-structured information will likely always have value to a practitioner. There are just certain parts of physician documentation that can’t be discrete or at least cost far too much to make them discrete. I’m sure the EHR narrative crowd out there will love this paragraph.

Although, even proponents of the EHR narrative realize the value of discrete data elements. That’s why companies like Nuance and MModal are investing so much money, time and effort into their various NLP (Natural Language Processing) and CLU (Clinical Language Understanding) offerings. The key question for these companies has never been whether there was value in discrete healthcare data, but in how you capture the discrete healthcare data.

When thinking about discrete healthcare data I hearken back to a post I did in 2009 that asserts the Body of Medical Knowledge Too Complex for the Human Mind. This concept still resonates with me today. The core being how does a physician take in all the patient data, device data, lab data, medical data, research data, etc and provide the patient the best care possible. This will never replace the physician (I don’t think), but I expect the tools will become so powerful that a physician won’t be able to practice medicine without them.

Much of the power required for computers to assist physicians in this way is going to come through discrete data.

Over the next 2-3 years we’re going to start seeing inklings of how healthcare will improve thanks to discrete data (often captured through and collected by an EHR). Then, in the next 5-10 years we’re going to see how healthcare couldn’t survive without all the detailed healthcare data.

June 19, 2012 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 15 blogs containing almost 5000 articles with John having written over 2000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 9.3 million times. John also recently launched two new companies: InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com, and is an advisor to docBeat. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and Google Plus.

Transcriptionists Partner with EMR Vendor

About 6 months to a year ago, a few transcription companies joined EMR and HIPAA as advertisers. Since that time I’ve had a chance to meet with these transcription companies and I must admit that the experience has been really quite intriguing.

So many people see the transcriptionists dieing out and being replaced by EMR and other related technology. Instead, I’ve seen a real strong set of transcription companies that are working to be a compliment to an EMR installation. That’s not to say that they’re not fighting for their lives. They are, but at least they’re not dead on the vine like many might have thought.

One example of this is in MxSecure’s offering an EMR for Medical Transcription companies.

We are really excited about this for other transcription companies. They are currently 2,000 small mom and pop transcription services across the country. They all are doing a great job documenting patient encounters for their customers. As technology is changing we want to help them add more value and keep their business. As compared to larger EMR companies that promote getting rid of your transcription we are the opposite. We are for whatever the physician thinks is most productive for them.

Add in a software like MModal to the dictated notes and I’m really interested to see how an EMR for medical transcription companies is going to work out.

Full Disclosure: As I stated above, MxSecure is an advertiser on my other EMR website, EMR and HIPAA. However, I was not paid or influenced to write this post. I just found it interesting and thought others would too.

May 6, 2010 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 15 blogs containing almost 5000 articles with John having written over 2000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 9.3 million times. John also recently launched two new companies: InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com, and is an advisor to docBeat. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and Google Plus.

Halamka’s Top 10 Healthcare IT Takeaways from HIMSS10

Anyone that works in Healthcare IT knows who John Halamka is and so of course I was interested in his post of his top 10 impressions after HIMSS. It’s an interesting list and I think he does a pretty good job of looking at things from a very high level. Here they are as posted on his blog:

1. Meaningful Use is everywhere. Vendors are promising EHRs, modules, appliances, and services to help clinicians achieve it. I had dinner on Monday night in a small Indian vegetarian restaurant. Sitting next to me were 3 engineers from Bangalore who were arguing about the details of Meaningful Use in between bites of vegetable curry. I could not escape Meaningful Use anywhere!

2. Certification is everywhere. It’s particularly ironic that many vendors claimed their systems were certified, even though the certification NPRM was just released today, making compliance with the new certification process in time for HIMSS impossible.

3. Cloud computing, Software as a Service and ASP models are popular tactics to accelerate EHR rollouts. There are still lingering concerns about how to ensure privacy in a cloud environment.

4. Several firms such as Intersystems, Axolotol, and Medicity are offering HIE platforms that include many of the standards noted in the IFR. The marketplace for HIE products is just emerging and it’s hard to predict who will become the market leader.

5. The Continuity of Care Document is gaining traction. I found many vendors supporting CCD exports from their EHRs. A company called M*Modal , has developed natural language processing technology that captures dictated content in its original context (ontology-driven
rules) as a CDA document.

6. Consultants abound. It’s clear that Regional Extension Centers and Health Information Exchanges will require expertise and staffing from professional firms. They all had large booths at HIMSS.

7. 30,000 people attended, including 10,000 I did not recognize (just kidding). It’s clear to me that many IT professionals, even those with limited healthcare domain expertise, attended HIMSS to better understand how they could participate in the euphoria of HITECH stimulus dollars.

8. Self service kiosks for patient identification and self-registration are now mainstream. Just as we print our airline boarding passes, we can now use credit cards or biometrics to check into ambulatory care appointments and automatically settle all co-pay balances.

9. Image exchange in the cloud is being offered by several vendors. As I mentioned in Monday’s blog, Symantec announced an appliance for small clinician offices that cloud enables all imaging modalities using a facebook-like social networking invitation to share/view images.

10. PHRs and patient engagement are becoming more mainstream. Google and Microsoft continue to innovate in the non-tethered PHR marketplace.

March 4, 2010 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 15 blogs containing almost 5000 articles with John having written over 2000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 9.3 million times. John also recently launched two new companies: InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com, and is an advisor to docBeat. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and Google Plus.