Quick studies bring big

By Brian Fonseca  |  Posted 2005-03-01 Print this article Print

changes."> That is a dramatic change from how things were, BlueWares Harr said. Previously, patients who entered the emergency room after-hours would frequently have to wait as a shift coordinator was tracked down, their medical records pulled, and a paper chart and historical information file sought, which was then hand-carried to a physician.
That process can take 30 to 90 minutes. Using BlueWare, that same information can be accessed immediately, resulting in the patient being treated right away.

Even a digital medical-records system cant completely eliminate paper. But all ER charts, physicians orders and other data that is typically handwritten can be entered into BlueWare via a scanner within 24 hours.

Regarding the technology itself, BlueWare Electronic Health Record features an admission module that lets an attendant scan a patients insurance card rather than photocopy it. Other modules include scanners that integrate with PAC (picture archive communications) systems, an accounting module, a PDA-attached module and a medical-record module with an electronic signatures capability.

To read more about radiologists using iPods to manage medical images, click here. The software leverages IBM tools to create ties between legacy systems and present-day Web-enabled and Web-based systems, allowing users to pool and correlate data.

BlueWare wants to pull in genetic information, as well, through IBM middleware. For example, it hopes to make genomic information available for heart and lung sounds, said Harr. A Linux edition of the product, to enable cross-platform support, is expected by years end. The software provider is engaged with IBMs Virtual Innovation Center to have its technology tested and running IBM p5 Linux servers dedicated to BlueWare.

With fast access to information, PDAs are becoming a more deeply integrated tool at West Branch Medical. Of 45 physicians on staff, about nine are using PDAs to access medical records remotely or at the health care facility.

Lewis said his IT systems and network infrastructure had to be rebuilt "across the board" to satisfy the new digitized environment. New hardware at West Branch Medical includes an IBM 810 AS/400 box, as well as an IBM optical jukebox to burn data onto optical platters.

The effort isnt over, Lewis said. He needs to complete his infrastructure to allow the health care organization to roll out more PDAs and enable medical devices to interface with cardiology equipment to save nurses time spent on logging patients blood pressure, vital signs and so on, as well as to take advantage of what on-demand technology can do, such as distributing Keane nightly reports more efficiently.

"The patient satisfaction has definitely improved since weve automated our systems," said Lewis. "I approached this as a partnership, and all three companies did that very well."

Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, views and analysis of technologys impact on health care.

Brian Fonseca is a senior writer at eWEEK who covers database, data management and storage management software, as well as storage hardware. He works out of eWEEK's Woburn, Mass., office. Prior to joining eWEEK, Brian spent four years at InfoWorld as the publication's security reporter. He also covered services, and systems management. Before becoming an IT journalist, Brian worked as a beat reporter for The Herald News in Fall River, Mass., and cut his teeth in the news business as a sports and news producer for Channel 12-WPRI/Fox 64-WNAC in Providence, RI. Brian holds a B.A. in Communications from the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

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