Written by Karen Borusiewicz
In the medical world technology is advancing rapidly and driving innovation forward. As a result, we have an increasingly impressive array of medications, medical procedures and tools to treat our patients. However, for the very basic task of recording patients’ vital information and keeping track of their needs, we are often mired by the inefficiency of old systems.
Healthcare professionals have unique needs when it comes to patient care: capturing large amounts of spoken and handwritten data, continued education and training and a high requirement for accuracy and accountability in day-to-day tasks.As a nurse practitioner working in the human services field, the difficulties this industry is having finding its place in the digital age are especially apparent and I will be the first to admit that we need a little help.
Any healthcare professional or anyone in a leadership or management position needs to be accountable for their actions. We cannot rely exclusively on our memory; should it fail us, it might mean someone’s life is in jeopardy. That is where the Smartpen comes in, bridging the crucial gap between the immediacy of physical notes and the versatility of the digital world.
For me, the Livescribe Echo Smartpen is my peripheral brain. It captures everything I write and hear, and syncs the audio with the ink strokes. Medical professionals can write down keywords from conversations, consultations and educational offerings, touch the words with their Smartpen and hear audio from the moment they penned those notes.
Think of the potential value for medical consultations where, with patient consent and involvement, handwritten notes and audio can become a ‘pencast’, which can be searched by keywords and shared with the patient or collaborating physician digitally. Entire appointments can even be recorded to ensure important patient information is not missed. There is also an annotation feature, so users can go back and add additional audio or written notes anytime.
There are no limitations to the use of a Smartpen; I am able to share written information with patients and colleagues via email without the aid of a fax machine, something that is particularly important when I travel for work. I also no longer worry about losing a note I wrote while working in the field; the portability of the Smartpen and immediate access to the vital information it holds provides peace of mind.
The Smartpen offers doctors and nurses an innovative way of interacting with patients so they can be sure every symptom they describe is captured and heard and for me, it keeps me accountable to my patients, to my colleagues, and to myself.
As companies like LiveScribe create innovative healthcare products that professionals can use at every level, the gap between technology’s role in medical research and healthcare practice slowly narrows. And in a world that changes from day to day, technology may be the epidermis of healthcare, the large organ holding everything together.