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Meaningful Health Care Informatics Blog

Jul 3 2011   4:14PM GMT

Top 10 must have health care technologies for surgeons

Posted by: RedaChouffani
Kinect, Medical devices, mhealth, mHealth applications, mHealth devices, Microsoft Kinect, smartphones, Surgical applications

In the health care market, everywhere you go you are bombarded with reminders that you need electronic health care records to be efficient. And not to disagree with that, but the degrees or level of benefits can differ drastically from group to group. Take, for example, the specialists. And to be more exact, the general surgeons. Simply put, the ROI and cost vs. benefit for a pediatrician compared to general surgeon are very different. So what new tools and technologies can we identify as valuable to surgeons?:

1. On-call and surgical scheduling tools: For many surgeons who are on-the-go saving lives, it is critical to know where to report to and the details of the cases they are going to be handling during a certain period. This means that their scheduling staff needs to be able to schedule cases and notify surgeons in real time, per demand, and yet not all scheduling systems are equipped with the functionality that offers this sort of case management ability. However, there are many tools out there available that can fill this gap, which can help maximize the use of the surgeon’s time and ensure a constant flow of communication that helps expand the care continuum.

2. Mobile calendar access: Traditionally we have seen surgeons refer to a printed calendar, stuffed in their coat pockets. Other times we have seen them carrying palm devices that needed to be synchronized at the end of the day to get their calendars up-to-date. But today, with the availability of real time synchronization of their schedules via BlackBerrys, Androids, iPhones, Windows Phones or any other number of mobile devices, surgeons have the ability to review their schedules and case details directly from their smartphones.

3. Interfacing to the hospital system to capture patient demographics and ensure care delivery: Having the ability to capture patient information and view the medical history of a trauma patient, who was admitted directly to the hospital in an emergent situation, presents a real challenge for surgeons. This patient’s information may very well be kept in the hospital’s electronic health record (EHR) system, though in the majority of cases, and especially during the weekend and other peak times in the ED, a surgeon might have to wait until the next business day for their registration and insurance information to be sent or to capture the patient demographics. But with the ability to interface between the HIS (hospital information system) and the surgeon’s office, the information can flow directly, and immediately, giving the ability to add notes directly into the patient’s record, ensuring critical case details are not missed.

4. Mobile encounter: For some surgeons, completing the super bill, or encounter, has become a task that goes home with them after their shifts. And with the extensive paper-based workflow, health care coders are not able to gain access to the information in a timely, efficient manner, thus delaying the billing process even further. But when a surgeon utilizes a smartphone or other mobile health device, given the plethora of new mHealth apps that now exist, they are able to bill and submit the encounter immediately. Charges are not missed and claims are able to go out the door at a much faster rate.

5. Mobile-rounding lists: During rounds, a surgeon can most definitely benefit from having immediate, mobile access to a patient list, where they are able to accurately and timely chart conditions and capture data during checkups.

6. Dictation: For some surgeons, using voice commands and voice recognition software can significantly reduce, or even eliminate, their transcription costs, as well as give the ability to document case details electronically, and with relative ease.

7. Electronic prescribing of controlled substances: For the many surgeons who have already met their minimum ten prescriptions before the upcoming June 30th, 2011 deadline, they will attest that it can prove to be a much more challenging task than originally thought. Yet when it comes to prescribing controlled substances, you’d be hard pressed to find a surgeon who doesn’t have this on the daily to-do list. The ability to utilize e-prescribing for controlled substances will not only ensure compliance at the federal level, but will also help with medication management, in addition to ensuring patient safety. (Dr. First is piloting, with pain management groups, the use of e-prescribing for controlled substances).

8. Access to medical records and patient history: With many physicians utilizing electronic health records in their offices and on their mobile devices already, and given the huge increase in adoption in the hospital setting given the push for meaningful use, many surgeons now find it invaluable to access electronically patients’ charts, via a web browser, directly in the hospital system, or even on their tablets and other mobile device.

9. CRM tools to help manage referring physicians: Surgery groups tend to receive most of their patients from referrals. And while they do not offer any incentives or rewards for these referrals, they are still in need of tracking where they are coming from. This not only makes maintaining those working relationships easier, but it also helps to ensure that they are continually working on their networks, collaborating and discussing the latest IT innovations, increasing the level of care they can offer their patients by maintaining their awareness of the new tools in the market.

10. Microsoft Kinect: Though it may be more of an early prediction than a proven fact,  as I discussed in many of my earlier posts, Microsoft’s Kinect has shown that it has tremendous potential in the market. For the lucky surgeons who are already taking full advantage of the wireless controller technology, it is clear that this is the start of wireless innovations coming to an operating room near you in the not-so-distant future.

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Jklawyer  |   Jan 22, 2012  12:31 AM (GMT)

With regards to #1, what web based scheduling systems are currently in the market today, if any? Real time schedule syncing, collaboration, and communication is crucial, but what software exists today to accomplish this? Btw -Great breakdown of what you feel surgeons will need or want in the future.


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