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Electronic health records

Northern Health centralizes dictation, transcription

British Columbia’s Northern Health, one of Canada’s largest health regions by geography, announced that it has chosen Crescendo Systems Corp., of Laval, Quebec, to provide a central dictation and transcription platform for the group’s 28 remote healthcare facilities and public health units.

The new, integrated system is to be one of the key pillars of Northern Health’s eHealth initiative, which is aimed at improving patient care and providing care-givers with efficient, secure access to critical patient information. The Crescendo technology was selected following a tendering process in December 2006 and is currently being rolled out to over 750 users.

Northern Health provides health services to 390,000 people in a catchment area that’s over 600,000 square kilometers – a geographical area that’s larger than France. The group was looking to increase efficiency by linking all its transcription work into one single pool from which it could be easily prioritized and dispatched throughout the region. The group then decided to unify its dictation data as well, to provide a central repository of all patient information.

“As most of patient data is dictated and then transcribed, we considered a central platform to be the very first, critical step to the electronic patient record,” said Doris Gemmell (pictured), Project Manager, Integration, Health Link North, Information and Technology Services.

Over 700 physicians will be able to dictate over the phone (with boom microphones for hands free access in pathology), or on their PCs, while their voice files will be streamed over the transcription pool in real-time, using the Crescendo Wide Area Service. Thanks to voice streaming technology, CWAS will also ensure optimal security in compliance with PIPEDA requirements (no duplication of file, no file sitting on local PCs, etc.).

The 45 full-time and 40 part-time transcriptionists will be equipped with Crescendo’s advanced medical transcription application, MedRite-IP, for access to productivity tools.

“The other key aspect was to ensure a proper integration between the new dictation and transcription platform and other key information systems, such as our Cerner RIS and Fuji/McKesson PACS systems,” explained Gemmell. “Based on Crescendo’s previous interface projects with all major PACS and RIS vendors, we were confident in their ability to help us build the integrated IT environment that is so critical to the quality of patient care.”

Once the integration is complete, radiologists will be able to dictate directly from the PACS system without having to open several applications, while patient demographics and other critical information will be fed through various HL7 interfaces.

“We are extremely proud to work with Northern Health on such a large-scale project, both geographically and technically. I believe Northern Healthcare’s choice is representative of the current need of large healthcare groups for premise-based, open-source technology that allows for the efficient management and secure exchange of medical data,” concluded Costa Mandilaras, President and co-founder of Crescendo Systems Corp.