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Technology Review: ParkStone & Bluetooth
Jeff Pasternack

Recently, the High Technology Task Force for the Medical Society of Washington, DC conducted a survey of MSDC members and asked about the types of technology that were of the most interest. One of the leading responses was mobile computing and thus, since the turn of the year, I've kept my eye on a firm called ParkStone Medical Information Systems. As with all companies who I mention in this column, I have no relationship with ParkStone of any kind. I'm merely an interested observer and with that perspective in mind, here's the skinny.

Currently, the ParkStone system is based on a Microsoft Windows-powered Pocket PC and it is designed to electronically prescribe medication in compliance with insurance formularies. It will also indicate drug-drug and drug-food interactions. The service is free to doctors, since pharmaceutical companies and insurers foot the bill. This is all well and good and if it will reduce the number of prescription errors, that's great. The nifty element of this technology isn't in electronic prescriptions, however. It's in the planned release of the charge capture and notes dictation modules that are due to be released later this year.

The value propositions for these types of services are numerous: improved accuracy and speed in billing, save office staff time, cut red tape from payors and help physicians comply with the complex, ever-changing guidelines set by the Health Care Finance Administration. Imagine, all of this value in the palm of your hand. Since January, more than 1400 physicians have done more than imagine this value and have signed up to use ParkStone's system. If ParkStone continues to add physicians at this rate, they'll be serving more than 9,000 physicians by year's end. While that's a seemingly small number in comparison to the total number of physicians, it serves as yet another indicator that computing devices are continuing their advance into the healthcare delivery process. And with the coming of Bluetooth, the excitement is just beginning.

Bluetooth is the telematics protocol that replaces wires and cables with dedicated, short-range radio. It allows for the wireless union of electronic devices, practically everything from computers to anything that has any type of electronic control. Whereas the current handheld devices either require line of sight or an Internet connection, Bluetooth-enabled devices don't: they merely have to be within 30 feet of one another. For those who have to know, Bluetooth was a Viking named King Harald Blatand and he united Denmark and Norway in the 10th century.

A quick look into the crystal ball portrays this type of scenario: a physician drives up to a hospital parking lot. The Bluetooth enabled gate recognizes the physician as an authorized parker and grants access. As the physician moves from the car to the building, her Personal Digital Assistant (PDA) comes into range of the door's sensors and the physician walks in. Now aware of her presence, the hospital's system checks the PDA's records for the synchronization date and time and synchs the device with the master records, inserting the schedule and relevant medical records. As the physician works through her rounds, she dictates her observations, orders and charges into the PDA. Upon completion, the information is captured by the master system and the information is sent off to the various departments for follow-up. As she moves from room to room, the records change and the process continues.

Of course, this won't be happening for quite a few years, yet. Bluetooth is still being tweaked and the ParkStone system only handles prescription-related tasks. But as a sample taste of what's to come, the future is looking pretty good.

Jeff Pasternack is the president of Dynamic Consulting Group, a franchise partner of 1-800-GOT-JUNK? and author of the TechnoPeasant Review.
If you have questions or comments about this column, please write to him at