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The future of ballpoint pens as EHR data input devices

Face it: Some docs can't type well enough to use EHR systems. We discuss the future of handwriting with electronic ballpoint pens as EHR data input devices.

Health IT and EHR implementation is all about iPads and laptops and Wi-Fi and Bluetooth and getting rid of dead trees in the workflow, right? That may put a certain group of physicians -- namely, those who can't type well and have a hard time learning speech recognition -- in the rearview mirror. Yet there's an acute shortage of physicians already, putting U.S. health care into a bind moving forward.

In this podcast, we sat down with Ginny Carpenter, vice president for Anoto Inc., whose digital pens capture handwriting electronically. Anoto's partners integrate data captured on the pens into electronic forms and electronic health records. She's understandably upbeat about the future of handwriting -- and handwriting recognition software -- in health care, which accounts for roughly 50% of the company's business worldwide.

While the iPad generation of medical students -- the next wave of physicians to graduate and enter the workforce -- might default to touchscreen devices and speech for data input in EHRs, she feels that the pen will always have a strong presence in health care. After all, when the typewriter reached widespread adoption soon after the Civil War, doomsayers predicted the demise of the pen then, too.

Let us know what you think about the podcast; email Don Fluckinger, Features Writer or contact @DonFluckinger on Twitter.

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The future of ballpoint pens as EHR data input devices

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