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Healthcare IT Goes Star Trek

Captain Kirk could talk to his computer and get the information needed to make executive level decisions. The latest clinical analytics tools featured at HIMSS are just about there.

Health IT On Display: HIMSS12 Preview
Health IT On Display: HIMSS12 Preview
(click image for larger view and for slideshow)
Glen Tullman, CEO of Allscripts, believes the practice of medicine is about to change. "Your iPad, your voice, and your hands will be the new input devices for the EHR of the future," according Tullman. He said in an interview at the HIMSS conference that we're reaching the point where physicians will soon be able to talk to their computer, get immediate access to all the patient data they need, and even pull up the latest clinical trials. "That's coming within 12 months. It's doable today," he said.

So the future of medicine is about to arrive. What exactly will it look like? According to Juergen Fritsch, co-founder of M*Modal, it will include not just voice recognition software--which has already been mastered by companies like Nuance Dragon--but voice recognition combined with natural language processing. That marriage, as explained in a recent article by Fritsch for Advances, will not only convert a physician's spoken words into text, but will generate meaningful, structured information that can populate allergy checkboxes in an EHR, for example, thereby speeding up the clinical documentation process.

[ Read more from the most important live event in health IT on our HIMSS Special Report page. ]

Equally impressive is the ability of voice recognition/natural language processing to let a clinician's speech activate a clinical documentation system, or a picture archive and communications system (PACS), or even put data into these systems with free form dictation. Think: "Go to allergies checklist," or "create a new office visit, " or "insert standard review of systems."

But perhaps the most futuristic capability of such "collaborative intelligence" tools is their ability to keep doctors fully informed of relevant patient data already in the electronic records system.

According to Chris Spring, VP of health information technology at M*Modal, their platform can also "listen" to a clinician's dictation in real time and tell him if he's missing any vital information already in the patient's chart. So, for example, if the doctor is dictating notes about a patient with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and he's unaware that the EHR contains spirometry readings--which measure lung capacity--the system will alert him to the existence of those readings.

Of course, not every healthcare provider needs these kinds of "Star Trek enabled" tools. The HIMSS conference featured several other powerful clinical analytics programs. Perficient, for instance, which has built its HealthBI suite on Microsoft's backbone, can handle the performance benchmarks needed to meet both Meaningful Use and Accountable Care Organization (ACO) rules.

HealthBI can generate disease registries for clinical reporting to public health agencies, do business reporting and financial management dashboards for reporting and improving key performance measures, and provide integration with leading financial & clinical applications. In fact, it contains the software tools to help providers meet all 33 quality measures required by Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Service's final rules to qualify as an ACO.

Healthcare providers must collect all sorts of performance data to meet emerging standards. The new Pay For Performance issue of InformationWeek Healthcare delves into the huge task ahead. Also in this issue: Why personal health records have flopped. (Free registration required.)

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User Rank: Apprentice
2/24/2012 | 6:45:56 PM
re: Healthcare IT Goes Star Trek
Another advancement in medical technology is Spiro PD. Spiro PD is a small portable and truly personal spirometer which empowers people with lung disease to monitor their lung function anytime and anywhere. The data collected from Spiro PD can be uploaded to the computer with a USB and emailed right to the doctor for review.
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