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Data Capture Pen Gets Meaningful Use Certification

Shareable Ink allows doctors to capture electronic health record data with pen and paper.
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Shareable Ink, a provider of digital pen-based data-capture services for healthcare, claims to be the first vendor of its kind to gain certification as an electronic health record (EHR) module capable of helping doctors achieve Meaningful Use.

The Nashville, Tenn.-based company announced Thursday that its product has earned 2011-12 certification from federally recognized testing body ICSA Labs as an ambulatory EHR module capable of meeting 11 of the Stage 1 Meaningful Use standards. ICSA's website indicates Shareable Ink passed testing September 30.

"It's the first time you can get to Meaningful Use with pen and paper," Shareable Ink founder, president, and CEO Stephen Hau told InformationWeek Healthcare.

Physicians and other eligible healthcare providers who demonstrate Meaningful Use of EHRs can earn extra Medicare payments of $44,000 over five years or $63,750 in additional Medicaid reimbursements in a six-year period. But they must have an EHR certified to contain specific functionality.

[Legally, EHRs are double-edged swords: They protect clinicians from malpractice litigation but also put them at greater risk. See Will Your EHR Land You In Court?]

The $27 billion federal incentive program aims to encourage doctors and hospitals to ditch their paper charts in favor of electronic records. Hau said the cloud-based Shareable Ink platform is intended to ease the transition. "It's all about taking current processes and creating structured data," explained Hau.

The Shareable Ink system employs digital pens from Anoto and other technologies to capture handwriting on laser-printed plain paper--rather than expensive, electrostatic sheets--and create wireless versions of physician encounter forms and other paper-based healthcare documents.

The digital pen transmits data over a wireless Bluetooth connection to a nearby computer or smartphone, then software converts handwriting into machine-readable text before transmitting the data to a Shareable Ink server where software converts handwriting into machine-readable text. Within seconds, Shareable Ink displays an electronic version of the document through a secure Web portal.

Physicians or their staff then can import the information into EHR or practice management systems.

Users may choose to also capture data in other formats, including from iPads or by scanning paper documents, Hau said. Whenever the software has less than 95% confidence in the accuracy of handwriting recognition, it highlights the field in question for review. The system gradually becomes more accurate over time as users train it.

The ICSA certification says Shareable Ink meets federal criteria in the following areas: maintaining an active medication allergy list; recording smoking status; access control; emergency access; automatic logoff; audit log; integrity; authentication; general encryption; encryption when exchanging electronic health information; and recording demographics.

Those alone are not sufficient to earn the Medicare or Medicaid bonuses, but healthcare providers may choose the technology as part of a wider EHR implementation.

Hau said that Shareable Ink will seek certification of additional ambulatory features as well as certification for inpatient EHR usage.

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