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  August 2004 Newsbytes

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cap today

Raymond D. Aller, MD
Hal Weiner
Michael Weilert, MD

One hospital’s efforts to reap the rewards of wireless

It’s called everywhere, anytime access and doctors at a suburban Chicago hospital are using it to view patient information more quickly and easily, regardless of their location.

As just one more sign of health care’s lengthening connection to wireless technology, in February Central DuPage Hospital, a 361-bed acute care facility in Winfield, Ill., implemented a Sprint wireless network throughout most of the hospital-including public areas and patient rooms.

Intended to improve the patient care process and reduce expenses, the wireless system allows doctors instant access to patient information. Using wireless smart devices, such as PDA (personal digital assistant) phones, doctors can easily pull up a patient’s vital signs, monitor real-time lab results, or check an x-ray from anywhere.

"They could be at their kid’s soccer game or at an airport in San Francisco and see their patient test results," says CDH’s vice president, Dave Printz, who initiated the project. "They can send e-mail right over their phone PDA. They can perform these tasks with better accuracy than ever before because they have access to the information in real time."

For laboratorians, this means fewer phone calls from clinicians requesting test results, Printz says. There are "no problems with interpretation because the doctor’s not depending on anyone reading [the results] to him," he adds.

CDH’s system uses the Sprint PCS Vision Smart Device Treo 600 from PalmOne, a PDA phone, and the Horizon MobileCare rounding application from McKesson Information Solutions. Because the hospital already had a wireless system, which staff had been using for laptops since 1992, and because PDA phones have become increasingly sophisticated, Printz says it was an opportune time to combine the technology and implement the new system.

While Printz describes the project as a strategic decision and says there’s no projected return on investment, he believes cost savings eventually will accrue. "Over time, [the system’s] going to change the way we behave and the way we operate," he says. "We’re very confident it’s going to get more efficient for us and will lower our cost of providing care."

There is one catch, however. Doctors and other hospital employees must pay for the new, more sophisticated, cell phones and the number of minutes they use. At one point, the hospital provided more than 300 cell phones to hospital staff, including some doctors. CDH’s employees, Printz explains, receive a significant discount from Sprint on the cost of the phone and the phone plan and can use the cell phones for personal use as well. "They pick their own phone that they want with whatever features they want," he adds.

The phones are a great buy, says Printz, when you compare the instant access capability and technical sophistication against the cost. "It’s unbelievable, it’s cheap. And all doctors and employees can communicate with each other, at any time, for zero cents per minute." Internet access, which doctors use to retrieve patient information, is available on the PDA phones under flat monthly fees, which are about $10. And the move away from hospital-funded cell phones has allowed Central DuPage to cut its wireless communication expenses by half while improving access.

Three months after implementation, about 12 percent of the hospital’s active medical staff, or about 30 people, were using a Sprint PDA phone to access patient data, Printz says. He expects that figure to reach 90 percent within two years.

At this time, he surmises, many physicians may not want to suffer the financial penalty of switching from their current wireless provider. Yet he contends that as doctors and other employees do their own financial analysis, they’ll find they probably will be better off switching sooner rather than later.

Sprint and Patient Keeper to jointly market software

Sprint and PatientKeeper have teamed up to offer a comprehensive portfolio of administrative and clinical mobility software solutions, including PatientKeeper Clinical Results, PatientKeeper Charge Capture, PatientKeeper Mobile Dictation, and PatientKeeper ePrescription. Under the agreement, PatientKeeper applications will be available on select Sprint PCS Smart Devices. Trio Teknologies, a distributor of wireless voice and data services, will serve as the contact for PatientKeeper customers seeking service activation and device-fulfillment services. The open standards of the PatientKeeper platform and PatientKeeper software development kits allow third-party developers to create custom applications.

PatientKeeper Inc.
Sprint

PentWare adds PDF conversion to software

PentaWare has added PentaPDF to its PentaSuite 7.1 software, an end-to-end file management program that allows users to open, compress, encrypt, view, upload or download, store, and send files. The PentaPDF program will allow users to create files in the PDF format for all document and graphic formats supported by the software, including Word, Excel, JPEG, TIF, JFIF, HTML, DWG, and RTF. PentaSuite 7.1 was recently released in English, German, French, Italian, and Spanish.

PentaWare Inc.

Nonlinear Dynamics releases new version of Progenesis

Nonlinear Dynamics has announced that its Progenesis 2D proteomic image analysis software now incorporates cross stain analysis technology.

The technology allows users to analyze multiplexed 2D gels containing an internal standard. The latest release of Progenesis also features an intelligent noise correction algorithm, which controls the effect of image noise. This feature, coupled with data quality control, provides users with a statistical measure of whether changes in spots are significant compared to the overall quality of the gel.

Nonlinear Dynamics
Contracts

The Mayo Clinic has purchased the SafeTrace donor management system and SafeTrace Tx advanced transfusion management system from Global Med Technologies, a division of Wyndgate Technologies.

Global Med Technologies

Sybase and ProPath have entered a partnership whereby Sybase will deliver its Provider Kiosk Internet-based lab ordering system to ProPath clients. ProPath provides pathology services to medical facilities nationwide.

Sybase Inc

Dr. Aller is director of bioterrorism preparedness and response for Los Angeles County Public Health Acute Communicable Diseases. He can be reached at raller@ladhs.org. Weiner is president of Weiner Consulting Services, LLC, Florence, Ore. He can be reached at hal@weinerconsulting.com. Dr. Weilert is director of laboratories, Community Hospitals of Central California, Fresno. He can be reached at mweilertmd@communitymedical.org.