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Open App Spotlight: Improving patient data in EHRs with the stroke of a pen

You tell me, which instruction is easier to understand?

1. Dissect the perforated 5 cm incision (ref. Slot B) on the host structure with the 4.8 cm x 6 cm freestanding flap (ref. Tab A). Adhere the flap to the anterior side of the host structure with a parallel application of a non-toxic adhesion strip.

2. Insert Tab A into Slot B. Secure with tape.

For most people, number 2 contains all the info we need. But for a structural engineer, number 1 is more in line with the language of the trade, and includes additional details that could make the difference between the success and failure.

The same is true in health care. Physicians need rich, clinical data when making decisions about patient care. But, you can’t expect patients to translate their symptoms into technical medical speak. That’s where Open App Challenge participant Shareable Ink comes in.

The path between tradition and progress

Traditionally, patients fill out paper forms at the doctor’s office. The forms go in their files. A physician will look at it, and eventually someone will manually enter it into an electronic healthcare record (EHR).

Without changing the process, patients simply use Shareable Ink’s special pen to fill out paper forms to add more value to EHRs.

The pen is equipped with a tiny video camera that captures the information. It loads data into the EHR where, after review, it is instantly available. The iPad version lets patients complete electronic forms with their fingers. (You can see both options in a demo video.)

Shareable Ink’s pen helps capture data with a tiny video camera, and uploads it to the EHR.

It’s what’s behind the scene that makes the real difference in patient care. The app converts info the patient just provided from what Shareable Ink’s CEO Steve Hau calls “natural input” to codified, structured data using medical vocabulary for the EHR.  Records are more accurate and physicians have the info they need – in their language – to make better patient care decisions.

Better data means better records

I’ve known the folks at Shareable Ink for a couple years as they’ve used the Allscripts Application Programming Interface (API) toolkit to develop their solution for both our Pro and Enterprise EHRs. The technology to immediately capture and convert handwritten text into usable data is impressive.

Historically, we have all resisted written documents because: 1. We didn’t get discrete data, and 2. With paper – where do we file it? How do we find it?

Sharable Ink’s technology enables us to escape both of these issues – we DO get discrete data (when that’s appropriate, we can also get images, signatures and drawings). And because we’re filing the data in the EHR discretely – we can shred the paper or give it to patients as their copy.

Tradition with a twist improves patient outcomes

Shareable Ink makes it easy to add value to EHRs by embracing and improving on some traditional ways physicians gather data. Better data leads to better records, which leads to better decisions at the point of care and improved patient outcomes.

I think my favorite part about Shareable Ink is how simple it is for patients to use. The instructions for the pen couldn’t be easier: the pointy end goes down.

Editor’s Note: Open App Spotlight will feature other Allscripts Open App Challenge Phase 1 recipients over the next several weeks. The challenge reflects Allscripts commitment to fostering innovation to improve health care – it’s why Open matters. To learn more about the Open App Challenge and see a full list of recipients, you can read the news release.

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