14 June 2004

Protecting Patient Data

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For every physician and patient, reduction of medical error is a priority issue. 10% of diagnoses and prescriptions are estimated to be flawed. Similarly, it is important to prevent data ‘mis-transmission’ as well as to assure patient confidentiality

For every physician and patient, reduction of medical error is a priority issue. 10% of diagnoses and prescriptions are estimated to be flawed. Similarly, it is important to prevent data ‘mis-transmission’ as well as to assure patient confidentiality. These goals can be achieved at once through the introduction of ‘Mobi-Dev’, a new handheld technology that allows healthcare data to be easily computerised. It is being trialled in the San Raffaele clinic in Italy, whose patients suffer from severe heart disease.

Mobi-Dev is a small portable computer, which is connected wireless to different medical information databases and is able to perform real-time data management. From anywhere and at any time, it enables health professionals to access the updated files of patients, including real-time lab analysis results, and to edit them by speech command. Money and time are saved, quality of medical care improves.

The system also has operational advantages. “Computerisation of medical files allows us always to know, in real time, what the patients in every unit are being treated for, from the ward to the gym… If everyone knows the exact status of all patients then teamwork becomes infinitely more efficient”, explains a Chiropractor from the San Raffaele Clinic in Rome. The device eases daily routine and facilitates teamwork amongst doctors, nurses and researchers, both inside and outside healthcare organisations.

The direct management of healthcare data reduces room for error in treatment. Patients can then feel more confident. “Computerisation of medical files allows even the regular family doctor to know what happened and what you have suffered from”, comments a patient in the clinic. Medical professionals no longer have to memorise their patients’ data before ward rounds, or to take notes on paper to later put them onto their PC – giving scope for error. And finally, regular family physicians are able to offer a better follow-up service.

The technical innovation of the system is the voice recognition capability. The integration of new technologies, such as mobile communication devices and natural language processing, means that the doctor or nurse’s voice is recognised as though it were a unique password. Access restrictions and secure data transmissions are therefore guaranteed.

Mobi-Dev is an innovative mix of state-of-the-art technologies that will lead to a new generation of device for healthcare professionals, whose patients’ databases are often spread across hospitals, private offices, laboratories and pharmacies.

Through pan-European co-operation, these computerised medical systems could soon be exploited across all of Europe. In times when every EU citizen is free to live, travel and work around the continent, the availability of their medical files will allow them to receive optimum healthcare wherever they might be. That is one of the advantages of the computerisation of medical files.

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