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Oregon Clinic Improves Access to Electronic Medical Records

Central Oregon Ear, Nose and Throat LLC is using an RFID system to save time and increase the security of files, by granting tagged personnel automatic access to electronic records as they approach a computer.
By Claire Swedberg
The Proxense software resides on a server on Central Oregon ENT's back-end system, where it can track the usage of each PC and control the opening or closing of files. The clinic's system is configured to require a fingerprint authentication twice each day. These two daily scans, however, constitute a very small percentage of the times that most health-care personnel actually access the EMR system, Gallivan says, thus making the RFID technology a great benefit. "One of the beauties we've been able to achieve is quick user changes on any desktop," he states. Previously, nurses and physicians were authorized to use only specific PCs, and were required to sign in and out every time they needed to access a file. With the RFID system, they can approach any PC and open any file that they are authorized to access.

Each computer can be configured differently according to a user's particular needs, says Richard Camden, Proxense's VP of RF technology. Some PCs may require a closer read range than others, depending on the activity taking place around that computer. For example, in a doctor's office in which space is tight, the read range could be as close as 5 feet, to provide the most security possible (for example, ensuring that no one accesses the PC while a doctor has stepped outside his or her door). In a larger nurses' station, however, at which a nurse might step farther away from the computer to a file cabinet and then back again, the read range can be longer—as much as 30 feet, Camden says.

In addition, the system allows for configuring a separate read range for signing in and out. The badges' RFID tags beacon once every 45 milliseconds via a proprietary air-interface protocol, though the beacon's transmission rate is also configurable. "I wanted technology that would maximize my workflow, and I'd been interested in RTLS [real-time location systems]," Gallivan says. The system went live in early January of this year, and Gallivan says it is working as he had expected, with no technical problems.

The solution also helps the clinic ensure that it complies with the U.S. government's Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA), by not leaving files open that could result in security breaches—which can lead to penalties meted out by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services or the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).

Central Oregon ENT also hopes to expand the system to employ Proxense' RTLS asset-management solution on the same software platform. In that case, the clinic would need to have Proxense readers installed throughout the facility, and apply Proxense 2.4 GHz battery-powered asset tags to those items it wishes to track. Gallivan hopes to begin utilizing the RTLS later this year.

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