Thursday, July 1, 2004

How mobile physician order entry can help healthcare providers reduce costs

Lessons from history

Ying supports his perspective on MPOE by taking a closer look at historic efforts to mobilize other systems, which show that successful mobilization of comprehensive, stationary systems resulted from intentionally limiting the functionality of the systems on portable implementations. For example, efforts to mobilize stereos and telephones lead to the development of the Walkman and cell phones, which initially had intentionally limited functionality.

Sony introduced its first-generation Walkman in 1979. At that time, the status quo was the large audio system with lots of knobs and dials, but the Walkman allowed only the tape cassette "play" function. The success of this approach is self-evident, as the portable music player -- now integrating various technologies and based often on MP3 technology -- is ubiquitous because of its focus on high-yield functions, ease-of-use, and mobility.

Motorola introduced its first cell phone in 1983. At that time, the status quo was the PBX-style business phone system with dozens of functions and features, yet cell phones could only place and receive calls. From 960,007 users in 1985 to 5.2 million in 1990 to over 100 million expected in 20008, focused and high-yield functions within an easy-to-use mobile form factor have resulted in widespread adoption.

Beta test of industry's first MPOE product begins

The growth of portable stereos and cell phones over the last 30 years demonstrate that migration of only the most vital functions from stationary, full-featured systems to smaller devices is the recipe for successful mobile products. Applying this strategy to its MPOE system, MercuryMD recently began beta testing its Mobile Physician Order Entry product, ActivOrders, at a MEDITECH site. The MEDITECH site will be the first to use handhelds with MPOE functionality to improve physician workflow and speed claims submissions.

Handheld-based e-signature of transcribed reports is the first of several key functionalities comprising the ActivOrders product. The e-signature functionality of ActivOrders allows a physician to use a handheld device to electronically approve a preliminary transcribed report and have that approval go back into the hospital information system. By doing this in real-time -- from their handheld devices -- during patient encounters instead of manually signing accumulated charts in the medical records department after patients have been discharged, physicians save time and hospitals reduce the time required to submit reimbursement claims.

The complete ActivOrders product will also include functionality allowing physicians to place high yield lab orders, co-sign preliminary orders, and view status of all orders, from their handheld device. By limiting the functionality of its ActivOrders product to four high-yield functions, MercuryMD hopes to enable hospitals to implement MPOE far more quickly and easily than they could implement a comprehensive "CPOE on a handheld" system. Ying expects his MPOE system will optimize the benefit hospitals can gain from the convergence of CPOE and mobile technology.