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Enhancing process efficiency through remote access: wireless implementation and remote access enable medical oncology practice to improve patient and clinician confidence while achieving ROI.

In a medical oncology practice, quick access to updated patient data is crucial for providing accurate diagnoses and treatment plans. While a traditional electronic medical record (EMR) facilitates the delivery of quality care, it is remote access to patient data that builds extreme utility into the EMR from the oncologist's perspective.

Since implementing an oncology EMR with flexible remote configurations from Mountain View, Calif.-based IMPAC Medical Systems Inc., Hinsdale Hematology Oncology Associates Ltd. (HHOA) of Hinsdale, Ill., has experienced improved physician and patient satisfaction, an increased patient load and an elevated level of process efficiency. According to Michele White, practice administrator, the system paid for itself within two years of implementation.

Enhanced Efficiency

Mobile devices are rapidly changing the way oncologists care for their patients. Immediate access to data is important for most physicians. But it plays a special role in an oncology practice, where a complicated, extensive and exact care regimen is scheduled at the onset of treatment, where all members of the treatment team pay close attention to changing vitals, lab results and chemotherapy administration, and where new orders are often generated based on those changing clinical values.

For six years, HHOA used another application to provide re mote access for physicians, hut it changed to IMPAC's Multi-ACCESS and Global-ACCESS for improved speed and reliability. Via any standard HTML browser, physicians can access patient data by calling up the individual Web pages of a patient's electronic record for Web-enabled point-of-care charting or remote charting. To protect access to patient data, the system uses 128-bit encryption, user name and password anthentication per physician and customizable "write" privileges on the patient database.

The five on-staff physicians at HHOA have varying levels of computer knowledge and different degrees of IT savvy, but White says "they are all comfortable with the EMR. They can get any reports they need and print right through the system while they are off-site."

Remote Utility

For HHOA physicians, remote access provides several benefits. First, it means they can access patient data from their home of rices, or from a mobile laptop, tablet or PDA, and that changing clinical evaluations, new lab results and the ability to write new orders are instantly available. When a physician is rounding in a hospital, he or she can visit a hospitalized patient, access the patient's medical record and generate new orders that subsequently generate a charge capture, without having to be in the office to rely on paper.

In a small practice, where one physician might cover for another on a weekend or holiday, remote access to the EMR provides the covering physician with an in-depth look at the clinical history and current treatment of a colleague physician's patient--especially valuable if both patient and physician are off-site. With remote access, the covering physician can access a patient's profile and clinical data in real time and provide any necessary changes or additions to the treatment regimen, assured that viewable data is also the most current available.

In spite of the newest mobile hardware that can support increasingly robust applications, no remote access to or utilization of an EMR can offer the treating physician a longitudinal portrait of a patient's life care. To that end, IMPAC relies on expert advisory board teams representing the medical specialties its products support to determine every data category and subset that must be available to the treating oncologist. It also works closely with its end-users to solicit feedback and recommendations for future versions of its applications.

Inside Benefits

From a process improvement perspective, HHOA has experienced several benefits. With 12 busy exam rooms but only five physicians, IMPAC's online transcription and report management system has enabled clinicians to quickly and accurately document patient encounters and manage them online. HHOA uses a structured noting system for patient documentation within the EMR. All incoming lab results are also downloaded into the system via an interface and are available from any laptop at the practice, ensuring the patient record is complete and up-to-date.

According to White, patient confidence at HHOA has improved with the use of mobile computing systems. "Our patients have noticed that our medical documentation is complete and right at hand," she says, adding that the patients have more confidence in the doctors and have received more face-to-face interaction time during their visits. "We have a high standard of care that we did not want to compromise. With tablet PCs, wireless laptops and Siemens PDAs, we have everything we need to access lab reports, scheduling and changing orders."

HHOA currently provides services to between 80 and 100 patients per day, which represents an increase in patient load since the office installed the IMPAC products. "We are definitely capable of managing more patients with an e-chart," says White. The increase in patient load and process efficiency has allowed HHOA to pay for the EMR system in just two years. "From an administrative and economic perspective, our mobile access to EMRs has meant that we did not need to purchase additional antivirus software and miscellaneous upgrades. We've saved a lot of money while increasing efficiency, security and reliability," White says.

Unlike most nonclinical professionals who think of time saved in hour or half-hour increments, physicians often speak of their time savings in terms of minutes, and sometimes even seconds. They like to be continually productive, even while in transit between locations. With remote access to patient data, HHOA has enabled its physicians to achieve exactly those results.

For more information about remote access and oncology solutions from IMPAC Medical Systems.


Michele White

Practice Administrator

Hinsdale Hematology Oncology Associates Ltd.

Hinsdale, Ill.


Global-ACCESS and Multi-ACCESS and Wireless EMR

IMPAC Medical Systems Inc.

MountainView, Calif.
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Title Annotation:Remote access: case history; IMPAC Medical Systems Inc.
Publication:Health Management Technology
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Mar 1, 2004
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