When the Department of Diagnostic Audiology at Children's Hospital Boston decided to implement a wireless electronic data capture solution, officials knew they had a number of challenges to overcome.
A key one was that some of the staff had been working at the hospital for more than 30 years, and transitioning to the Mi-Co Mi-Forms electronic data capture solution had to be seamless, said Dr. Brian Fligor, director of the Diagnostic Audiology Department, which works with infants, children and adolescents who have various degrees of hearing loss. The Mi-Forms implementation at the hospital allowed the department to customize electronic forms so they look and feel exactly like the paper forms the staff was used to. The solution was rolled out in July and August, and the response has been positive, Fligor said.
The Boston facility's move is part of a growing trend among hospitals, which are pushing for greater use of electronic medical records. A survey conducted in 2006 by the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society found that almost a quarter of respondents have a fully operational electronic medical record system, and another 40 percent had signed a contract for or had initiated an installation.
Mi-Forms converts handwritten paper forms into electronic forms, said Melissa Neal, vice president of sales at Mi-Co, in Research Triangle Park, N.C. The data is entered on a tablet PC and transmitted wirelessly to hospital databases, clinical care applications, and Medicare and Medicaid program administrators, Neal said. Since the data only needs to be entered once on the tablet PC, lost forms, triplicate copies, form-filling errors, manual keying errors and data entry backlogs are eliminated, she said.
The solution saves time, resulting in more time with patients and better patient care, Fligor said, adding that it also allows him to see more patients. Fligor said the Mi-Forms solution could shave enough time off administrative and data entry duties to allow him to see another 800 patients next year.
"I don't have to change my staff or how they handle patients. All I have to do is change the way they do things," he said.
Children's Hospital uses the Mi-Forms software in conjunction with Fujitsu tablet PCs and a Perfect Pen implementation, which conveys the feel of writing on actual paper, Neal said. Keeping that familiarity is key to the solution's success, she said, since it not only helps with user buy-in but also cuts down on training time. "You're not asking them to make revolutionary changes, although the end result is very revolutionary," Neal said.
The Mi-Forms solution can accept data in nearly any form, Fligor said, including audio, video, and typed or handwritten data.
Children's Hospital can input data from an audiometer that can be stored along with all other patient records, he said. Since Children's Hospital tracks and sees patients from the time they are very young until they are 18 or 19 years old, continuous access to that patient data along its entire life cycle is critical, Fligor said. Mi-Forms puts all those records just a few keystrokes away.
Instant access to data also helps with compliance, Fligor said, since the hospital can accurately and readily report to governmental agencies, schools and insurance companies.
"If we can be better at the work we do, the patient is better taken care of, and that's what it all comes down to," he said.
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