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The age of technology has many benefits for the health care industry. Information is easier to come by, easier to access. But how do you bring all the pieces together? Two new systems may help health care organizations manage their data and information better in the future.
The first, AVT CallXpress, links e-mail, voice mail, and faxes. According to Laura Johnson, vice president of product marketing for AVT, based in Kirkland, WA, the system provides users with a single point of access to receive and manage all three message types — voice, fax and e-mail — through their wireless device, telephone, the Internet, or their familiar e-mail inbox.
All three types of messages appear in the e-mail inbox. Outside the office, users can check e-mail, voice mail, or faxes from another computer, or even a regular telephone. Text-to-voice technology allows users to listen to written messages, and then reply to them using his or her voice. The reply is transcribed into an e-mail message.
There are other similar systems. Johnson says she sees Lucent, Nortel, and Siemens as her main competition. "They are all PBX vendors, though, and they sell a solution that integrates with their PBX. But we integrate with more than 150 circuit and IT-based PBX switches. They also only operate in an exchange environment, while we allow you to access messages via e-mail on either Microsoft Outlook or Lotus Notes. That’s 80% of the market." Johnson says her product also allows for greater size, with up to 10,000 users being served.
Another distinction, says Johnson, is the fax component of the product. The competition can’t integrate all three components — fax, voice, and e-mail — with e-mail access to all.
While she wouldn’t discuss the pricing structure, Johnson says an organization using her system could do away with its answering services. "A physician could be notified on a cell phone, pager, or home phone that there is an urgent message, regardless of where he or she is. If you are out of the office, just dial the system and pick up your messages."
There are also custom applications that AVT can create, Johnson says. For instance, an appointment wizard could let patients set appointments over the phone. Classified communications like test results could be provided through a secure mailbox.
"A lot of calls to physicians are asking the same kinds of questions," she says. "During a greeting, you can prompt patients to press one for directions, enter a fax number and they will be automatically faxed, or press one to have them given by voice. All that can be automated. That’s a real timesaver."
One of the biggest customers for the company is the Louisiana State Senate in Baton Rouge. According to Mike Baer, secretary of the senate, The Louisiana State Senate was able to eliminate numerous fax machines and telecommunications management costs of $25 per month per employee. Time savings are also considerable. So far, employees think this "is the greatest thing since sliced bread," says Baer. Among the health care customers is Sutter Health of Sacramento, CA.
Another new system will allow physicians to receive transcribed reports and patient chart information over the Web or even through wireless telephones. MDinTouch Inc., based in Miami, and MODCOMP of Ft. Lauderdale, FL, have linked up to give physicians access to data that had been locked away in old style computer systems. By creating a bridge between palm computers and old mainframe systems, MDinTouch will allow physicians to take notes using new technology, have it transcribed, and sent back in a secure Internet connection. Physicians can access, sign, amend, and send on the reports using the new system.
Currently, a women’s clinic in Miami, Femwell Diagnostic Center, is piloting the system, which also can be accessed using two different models of Erikson cellular telephones. In the future, other phones will be able to access the system, too, says MDinTouch’s chief technical officer Kent Wreder.
The system allows immediate access to data that might be hard to get in the middle of the night, on weekends, or simply when the physician is not in the office, Wreder says. They can have instantaneous access to medical data, he adds. It makes use of XML, the up-and-coming Internet computer language, says Wreder, which allows the system to talk to systems which using other languages it could not.
So convinced are at least two physicians of the importance of both wireless technology and XML to the health care industry that they started a company, ChartWare, based in Rohnert Park, CA. The company makes medical record-keeping software that can be used on palm and other handheld electronic devices and uses the XML language.
According to ChartWare president David Tully-Smith, MD, getting rid of paper-based charts not only eliminates errors due to misfiling or illegible writing, but it also gives physicians access to their patient data on the spot. "They become a permanent, legible, and immediately accessible part of the patient record."
[For more information, contact:
• Mike Baer, Secretary of the Louisiana State Senate, Baton Rouge, LA. Telephone: (225) 342-0629.
• Laura Johnson, Vice President of Product Marketing, AVT Corp., 11410 N.E. 122nd Way, Kirkland, WA 98034. Telephone: (425) 820-6000.
• Kent Wreder, Chief Technical Officer, MDinTouch, 7428 S.W. 48 St. Miami, FL 33155. Telephone: (786) 268-1161.
• David Tully-Smith, MD, President, ChartWare, 101 Golf Course Drive, Rohnert Park, CA. 94928. Telephone: (800) 642-4278.]