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I am 87 years old, with a problem of the prostate gland. Before I met Dr. Baum, I went to the bathroom every 30-60 minutes. After Dr. Baum's treatment on my prostate, I go only 5 times per day and only 1 time at night! You turned my life around. I am so very grateful!

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Going Wireless or Planning a Wireless Future For Your Practice
Or First Paperless, Now Wireless

Reprinted with permission from Dialogue Medical, 1-800-482-7963.

Have you ever had your office contact Federal Express to find out where your package is and watch the currier use a hand-held, wireless device to inform you of its exact location? Or have you returned your rental car to Herz and have an employee in the parking lot have all the vital statistics about you and your car on a computer attached to hisher belt which is hundreds of feet from their stationery computers? If these businesses can use wireless hand-held computers to prevent business-critical disasters, don't you think the healthcare industry can add this technology to our practices to improve the care that we offer our patients? Of course, the answer is yes. Physicians are comfortable with technology for diagnosing and treating diseases as well as using technology advancements in the operating room. Now is the time for us to become comfortable using wireless technologies in our office practices with the purpose of improving patient care.

Unfortunately, many of us, myself included, have a "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" attitude about technology applications to the office practice of medicine. But two years ago we received a wake up call from the Institute of Medicine when they reported to the nation that nearly 100,000 Americans may die every year because of medical errors. We now have the technology, available to us at an affordable cost, which has the capability to improve the quality of care that we offer our patients, increase the efficiency of care, and reduce the cost of providing that care thus increasing our revenues and our profit at the same time. It may sound too good to be true but the technology is here and it can be done.

Techno-Savvy or Technophbic?
Except for the younger physicians, who grew up with Game Boys and Nintendos in their hands, and a handful of older "techies", most of us consider ourselves "technically challenged." The truth is most doctors are already using these technologies in their personal lives. The number of household personal computers is at an all-time high. Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs) including cell phones, pages and handheld computers, are ubiquitous and improve our personal and professional lives already. Can you imagine practicing clinical medicine without a cell phone or a pager?

Going wireless
Using wireless technology provides the physician to transfer patient information to any location you are dispensing care-the office, hospital rounds, emergency room, ICU, ordering tests while traveling in your care, or electronically prescribing medication form home. Now doctors can have access to patient histories form other providers, immediate lab results, pharmaceutical information, insurance information, innumerable medical references and resources, and administrative/billing information. Just imagine how may errors could be avoided and maybe even lives saves by immediately accessing medical histories, lab results and crucial drug interaction information when you are eyeball to eyeball with your patients. Also, imagine how many charges you lost between the hospital, the emergency room, and your office that would now be captured if you had access to wireless technology.

Where does wireless technology fit?
Patient care at the bedside has changed very little since the days of Florence Nightingale. Most of us shuffle though paper files with outdate information and make critical decisions without the benefit of having immediate access to lab results, patient histories, allergies, pharmacy information and clinical guidelines. With the use of wireless clinical documentation software, you have accurate, up-to-date information (now, no waiting for your dictation to be transcribed) available when you need it, i.e., at the point of care between you and your patient. The result is lower costs, greater accuracy, and better clinical outcomes.

Prescribing medication. The article from the Institute of Medicine has identified adverse drug effects as the single largest cause of extending patient length of stay. The use of wireless technology allows doctors to access a clinical information system to ensure that proper medication is ordered and there are no adverse interactions. For example, if you ordered ciprofloxacin for a patient and you forgot that they were taking theophylline for their COPD, the wireless, handheld computer would prompt you about the drug interaction and you could order another quninolone or another class of antibiotics and avert an adverse drug event.

Inventory management. One of the most tangible forms of healthcare expense reduction comes form accurate tracking of medical supplies. Wireless devices can reduce waste and lost charges and can improve inventory management by ensuring that materials are always accounted for when they are used in the office. The cost saving for doctors who provide injectable medications in the office would be thousands of dollars a year if you made use of the wireless technology to order the drug only when it is dispensed and avoiding costly inventories of this expensive drug.

Improved efficiency. Patients charts will be available on mobile devices such as laptops, pen tables or handheld personal computers equipped with wireless cards containing appropriate application software. Now you will never lose a patient's chart again. It is estimated that every time someone in your office pulls a chart and replaces it in the chart rack it costs you $3.00. And the cost of looking for a record that has fallen into the ever-present "chart hole" is even more expensive. With the wireless devices you will have access to patients charts everywhere in and out of your office twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.

I predict that in addition to the indispensable rectal glove and K-Y jelly, every one of us will be carrying a handheld computer that wirelessly connect us to the office computers, to the hospital's information system, to the pharmacy, to the payer, to medical libraries, and to our colleagues.