by James Markland

· Philips Puts the Magic in Speech Recognition Technology
· Bolstering Data Collection for Transplant Programs
· Tech Zoom: ATDEC Launches New Monitor Mounts
· SmartDraw Offers Unlimited Access to Medical Illustrations

Philips Puts the Magic in Speech Recognition Technology

On August 15, the Aberdeen Royal Infirmary (ARI), Aberdeen, UK, implemented the SpeechMagic solution from Royal Philips Electronics, Amsterdam, giving its 60 radiologists access to front-end speech recognition. With SpeechMagic, dictations are automatically transformed into text, allowing radiologists to create and sign off on written reports instantly after dictation.

“With the successful implementation of speech recognition, we have proven how positively a new technology can affect our working conditions and the services we provide to patients and clinicians,” said Olive Robb, MD, a radiologist at ARI. “We were totally surprised by the lack of difficulties with the implementation and acceptance of our new speech recognition system. The technology has reached the level that allows doctors the full responsibility of report creation.”

At ARI, the SpeechMagic platform underlies the reporting solution from Soliton IT. Stateside, it underlies solutions from vendors like Medquist, Crescendo, Dolby, and more. And expect new integrations—this time with electronic medical record (EMR) vendors, said Nick van Terheyden, MD, CMO of Philips Speech Recognition Systems.

“We’re focusing on the extraction of clinically actionable data from the spoken word,” he said, “which is more significant and important than just converting the spoken word into text.”

He explains that simple speech conversion, while useful, is not beneficial to the current desires of the market. “Since HIMSS [the annual meeting of the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society], we have focused on working with Health Language, a natural language vendor from Denver, combining to produce clinically actionable data,” he said. “We’ve been showing that to a variety of EMR vendors and other people in the space who’ve been very excited, and we’ll be seeing some of that integration in the very near future.

“We allow large-scale implementation with minimal user involvement,” van Terheyden said. More than 50,000 US physicians use SpeechMagic from just a single vendor implementation. The next goal is to refine the large volumes of data produced by speech recognition into more immediately useful data.

“To reduce clinical error, improve care, and save money, you need data, not blobs of text,” said van Terheyden. “That’s what we’re focusing on now.”

—Cat Vasko

Bolstering Data Collection for Transplant Programs

Service Saves Staff Time, Makes Patients a Priority

With eHealthConnect, records are tracked down by a clinical customer support team, digitized, and made accessible over a Web-based viewing system.

The collection of a patient’s disparate medical records is never an easy process. Having a strict time constraint—and needing to collect a great deal of material—makes what’s already a headache into a full-blown migraine. But that’s what transplant coordinators do, day in and day out, compiling test results and imaging studies from multiple locations in hopes of placing candidates on the national transplant waiting list as rapidly as possible.

“The bulk of our business is on the pre-evaluation side,” said Rachel Thomas, MBA, BSN, RN, Transplant Program Administrator for the abdominal transplant program at Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, State College, Pa. “For patients who don’t live locally or can’t come to Hershey for their testing—and I’d say the average person gets 15 or 16 tests—they could be going to five or six locations to meet the requirements of those tests. Then we’d have to call each place, track down the records person, often get piecemeal results, call back frustrated, and increase tensions between the coordinators and medical records technician.”

Angie Korsun, RN, MSN, MPA, Director for Transplant Services and Ambulatory Operations at the University of Virginia Health System, Charlottesville, tells a similar tale of woe. “It was very labor-intensive,” she said of its legacy process for tracking down records. “And the more images that were involved, the more tedious it became, the more labor-intensive and time-consuming.”

Korsun and Thomas both use the past tense because they have since adopted a better method: using the eHealthConnect service from eHealth Global Technologies Inc (eHGT), Rochester, NY. With eHealthConnect, records are tracked down by a clinical customer support team, digitized, and made accessible over eHGT’s Web-based viewing system.

“There was this big smoke and mirrors around kidney transplants, everyone citing outstanding medical records as the reason for delayed evaluations,” recalled Thomas. “This was the biggest and most understandable excuse. Now we don’t have that obstacle and can focus on other efficiencies to be gained. We estimated it took approximately 2 weeks to receive all the information to assemble the potential transplant patient’s complete medical record. Two weeks compiling all of that information winds up adding another 4 or 5 months to the process.

“With eHealth, it takes 5 minutes to fill out the paperwork, and then it’s off their minds.”

Korsun notes that being able to receive images in an electronic format is particularly helpful. “We deal with a lot of MRI and CT scans, and with heart transplants, cardiac caths are extremely important,” she said. “A lot of places don’t necessarily have these images available in an electronic format.”

“We had a case where a coordinator was going on a 2-week vacation, but one test result had not yet been received, so the patient could not be presented to the transplant selection committee later that day,” Thomas said. “The coordinator made a last-ditch effort, told the eHealth representative her situation, and got it in 25 minutes. Without the help of eHGT, that patient would have waited at least another 3 to 4 weeks before the next opportunity in front of the committee.”

—C. Vasko

Tech Zoom:

ATDEC Launches New Monitor Mounts

ATDEC’s new products offer more efficient mounting of flat-panel displays.

Three new releases from ATDEC, Sydney, Australia, enable more efficient mounting of flat-panel displays. The Visidec Focus Micro is a versatile desk pole-mount system; the Visidec Focus Wall is a space-saving wall-mount; and the Telehook TH-30-50-RW offers 360-degree rotation capability for large 30″ to 50″ flat panel displays.

The two new Visidec mounts are designed for 12″ to 22″ displays, and both incorporate the company’s FlexiStar mechanism, which is an adjustable mounting head featuring extendable tabs for easy adjustment. They also feature an internal cable management system, ensuring a clean and clutter-free environment.

The Telehook mount can support wide-screen flat panel monitors up to 187 pounds, and offers full rotation capability for instant transformation from landscape to portrait mode, depending on the application; the monitor also can be tilted or panned 20 degrees. The mount sits just 4 inches from the wall and comes in a silver powder-coated finish.

“As an established leader in LCD monitor mounting systems, ATDEC strives to constantly introduce new and innovative products that stay ahead of the curve,” said Jerome Green, director of ATDEC. “The new Telehook is a truly unique mounting solution for commercial and consumer applications, and the new additions to the Visidec product family offer great features at reasonable price points.”

—C. Vasko

SmartDraw Offers Unlimited Access to Medical Illustrations

SmartDraw Healthcare Edition 2008 gives users access to more than 3,000 medical images.

When used to create anatomical diagrams or patient handouts, a picture may be worth a thousand words—but it also can cost health care professionals a pretty penny, especially when an image is copyrighted. SmartDraw Healthcare Edition 2008, released this month from SmartDraw, San Diego, gives users access to a library of more than 3,000 medical images from Lippincott and Netter images from Elsevier, so that health care professionals can create the materials they need without worrying about individual image fees.

“If somebody wanted to go to either the Elsevier or Lippincott Web site and license any of those illustrations, it would cost them around $250 per illustration,” said Todd Savitt, vice president of sales and business development. “Within our product, it’s unlimited use.”

The 2008 edition includes integrated photo software, picture charts for health care presentations (called Chartoons), automatic flowcharting, customizable SmartTemplates, automatic graphic design, custom charts, and one-click interface with Microsoft programs. It also incorporates all of the features of the general business version, allowing users to create forms, flow charts, Gantt charts, organization charts, timelines, flyers, and diagrams.

“The standard product is geared toward the standard business user, someone on the computer who uses Word and Office, but isn’t a graphic artist and doesn’t need to take the time to learn how to use a drawing program,” said Ken Roberts, director of product marketing. “That applies to the health care side as well.”

Users can even create floor plans with the program, and the Healthcare Edition includes the predrawn medical equipment and other elements needed to help hospitals and health care facilities plan how to use their space. “It’s really easy to do within our product,” Savitt says. “In fact, a lot of people use it for kitchen and bathroom remodeling. There are more than 30,000 pieces of content within SmartDraw.”

The graphics program also allows users to import their own images and annotate them. Physicians who use tablet PCs, for example, can take advantage of the ink-enabled feature, which lets them annotate the image by hand—a feature that could be used during a patient consult. “They can import the picture or illustration of the heart and then they can write on it with their pen,” Savitt said. “Then they can save it and print it.”

SmartDraw Healthcare Edition 2008 retails for $449, and there are several group licensing rates available. A free trial version is available at

—Ann H. Carlson