Shareable Ink

Posted on April 13, 2011 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of and John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

Ever since HIMSS (still seems like yesterday, but was really a month and a half ago), I’ve been wanting to do a writeup about the company Shareable Ink. A number of people asked me at the show what the most innovative thing I’d seen at HIMSS was and my most common answer was Shareable Ink.

The interesting thing about Shareable Ink is that they provide such an interesting middle ground between a technical solution and continuation of paper. I remember about 5 years ago when I heard someone describe the perfect clinical documentation system. It was completely flexible. Required little to no training. Supported every possible documentation style. etc etc etc. Then, they acknowledged that what was being described was the paper chart. It was then that I recognized that while EMR can provide some benefits that paper charts can’t provide, paper charts also had some advantages that would be difficult to provide using an EMR. (See also this post about EMR’s being designed as more than a paper chart).

I think this background is why I found the Shareable Ink approach to documentation so fascinating. I really see it as an interesting way to try and capture the benefits of granular data elements and electronic capture of the data while still enjoying the benefits of paper.

My simplified explanation of the Shareable Ink technology is as follows. You print out a form that you want to use for the patient visit. Each page that’s printed out has a unique background (although it just looks like a colored page to the naked eye). When you use the Shareable Ink pen to write on the printed out page, the pen uses a camera to record what you wrote on that page and where you wrote it. Then, once you sync the pen it recreates the document you wrote on in the system.

It also has some really interesting advanced functionality as far as being able to do check boxes on the printed out form and even will convert your handwriting into text on the electronic document if you wish. I’m certainly not doing all of the features justice in this description, but I think you get the general idea. It’s a pretty cool demo if you get a chance to see it. I wish they had some videos on their website of it in action so I could show you. (UPDATE: Stephen from Shareable Ink sent my this link to a YouTube video of it in action. I’d like to see a few more specific examples of it in action like I saw at HIMSS, but it does do a pretty good job of showing some of what I described above.)

I think they’re also taking a smart approach to the market. Their strategy was to focus on areas of healthcare that were slow to go electronic: Anestheiologists, Emergency Room, Hospitalists and ambulatory Physicians. A smart plan since this hybrid paper/electronic system might get those that love their paper off the fence and into the digital world.

I do have some concern about how well this would do over the arc of the day. How often would there be issues with a pen that frustrates the providers? How much work is it to print off the sheets for each patient? How well could this integrate with an EMR (although, I’d love to see it used with a number of the “Hybrid” EHR vendors out there)? Not to mention, how will the syncing of the pen work? Will it sync flawlessly every time or will you have a bunch of doctors wondering where the documents are/were since the pen didn’t synch for some reason?

I’ll be keeping an eye on Shareable Ink and how well they do. There’s certainly an existing market of users that love their paper and so I’ll be interested to see how these doctors like Shareable Ink’s technology.

An interesting side note is that I find it interesting that Shareable Ink left the Boston area and moved their headquarters to Nashville, TN. Very interesting move I think.