One of the lunch demos I saw at the EHR Stimulus tour was a demo of the integration of a Cisco IP phone with an EMR. I’ll admit that they are VERY brave souls to try and do a demo like this since it’s just prone to problems. Demos are always that way. Plus, I think you can get the picture of what’s happening without seeing it. At least I could have and everyone else that couldn’t probably just saw all the configuration and thought it was too complex to even consider.
That part aside, there were a couple of things that were intriguing about the demo. First, as they said, it’s interesting to see how hardware can really affect and interact with your EMR. That’s an interesting concept that I think is worth exploring a lot more. Second, if setup correctly there are a couple features that are interesting and useful. However, I’m not sure it’s really worth the cost or hassle to get these features. They are kind of nice to have, but aren’t deal breakers or makers.
The features that I did find interesting was that it would bring up the patient name/information on the phone when they are calling. I’d be interested to see how much information can really fit on the phone. However, even if it’s just a patient ID which you can use to quickly pull up the patient’s chart, then it’s a nice time saver. Plus, you can quickly verify that it is indeed the patient that’s calling using the information on the phone. Very cool feature and pretty useful. I imagine if you worked in an office with this you’d take it for granted until you moved to an office that didn’t have it and you’d miss it.
The other feature that’s cool is really just IP phone specific and that’s having a soft phone on your computer (basically the phone just runs on your computer and you can use a headset plugged into your computer). Saves on the cost of the often expensive IP phones and I expect we’re going to see some pretty amazing advances in soft phones.
Like I said. These weren’t things that should change your EMR decision, but it is a preview of some of the types of technologies we can see integrated with an EMR.