Customer Profile: Spencer Municipal Hospital
Spencer Hospital needed to add automated file conversion to speed input of records and images into its Electronic Records Management (EMR) system.

The Organization
Spencer Municipal Hospital started back in 1911 and now has 500-plus employees dedicated to bringing high quality health care, delivered with a compassionate touch.  The hospital has a 99-bed facility that continues to grow and change as Spencer meets the healthcare needs of Northwest Iowans and Southern Minnesotans.  Spencer shares records with the adjoining Abben Cancer Center and Warner Dialysis Center, as well as Warner's Spirit Lake location.  Also sharing records are two regional Spencer Hospital family practice clinics.

Horizon Patient Folder gives physicians, health information management (HIM) personnel and other hospital staff anytime-anywhere access to review, analyze, code and complete electronic patient records.  It allows HIM departments to become virtual, giving staff the ability to work remotely and enabling authorized hospital personnel to view patient records electronically.  In addition, it provides physicians with secure online access from their home, office or at the hospital, further streamlining clinical workflow.

The Challenge
Spencer began the big process of converting paper patient records to electronic records in mid-2006, using McKesson's Paragon report generator and Horizon Patient Folder (HPF).  But Spencer found that many departments wanted to be able to add PCL files into HPF, but could not.

"At the beginning of admission, we scan the patient's insurance card, they get a patient number, and we scan other documents into the patient's file," says John Lyon, Director of Clinical Technology at Spencer.  "Then the patient is set up and in the system, and whenever information is sent to HPF there's a number associated with that data.  All sorts of files - test results coming out of laboratories, clinical documentation, doctor's notes, are scanned into the HPF.  But, for example, when the lab gets test results, they send those around to several different places electronically as PCL and the lab only prints it once.  The problem is that HPF cannot read the PCL.  This was a big issue because many other departments, not just the labs, are creating PCL."

Spencer also needed a way to save PCL coming out of the document imaging system as PDF or jpegs that Horizon Patient Folder could understand.  But not every file format converter met their criteria.  Lynn Scharn, Director, Information Technology Services and SwiftConvert administrator, noted that, "Adobe doesn't work so well.  Distiller's output was skewed."   This happens because Distiller rewrites the original application files to "vector" PDF, thereby causing inaccuracies.  

The Solution
McKesson recommended SwiftView as a solution for Spencer because SwiftView handles PCL better than anybody - which is important, considering McKesson's document management system outputs 70 types of PCL reports.  SwiftConvert saves PCL as searchable, compressed image PDF, so nothing of the original is lost in translation - the resulting PDF will view and print with perfect accuracy.

"I had a number of conversations with IT advisors at McKesson," says Lyon, who is the Paragon project manager.   "They recommended we get an application server license to print PCL files to TIFF.  So, PCL comes out of the Paragon reporter, goes though SwiftConvert, and is then sent into the Horizon Patient Folder as archived TIFF."

"Initially, the HPF manager told us to take all those files and first print them out, then scan them back in as TIFFs, and then index them into HPF - a big hassle," said Lyon. "But he also suggested we get SwiftConvert.  We ended up using two products for similar, but different jobs: Folder-To-Folder and SwiftConvert."

"Now, SwiftConvert is integrated into the HPF system so that no manual intervention is needed," says Lyon.  "With SwiftConvert, it's so easy: there's a number in the document header that lets us easily find or lookup the patient number.  SwiftConvert takes care of the conversion into a compatible format (PDF and jpeg), which Horizon Patient Folder can import."

"SwiftConvert's been up and running well from day one," says Lyon.  "Since SwiftConvert was integrated during the conversion, there's no real way to compare its effects on the workflow, but we know that not having SwiftConvert would have created inefficiencies and would have cost us money.  We simply didn't have electronic medical records before; we took on electronic medical records, digital x-rays, and digital lab systems all at once.  We're still adapting to the new technology, so many people are still printing out a lot.  They've got to see it in their hand and on the screen to believe it is really identical.  We hope by January that there'll be less printing.  But we're already seeing a lot of satisfaction with the new system from those who use it.   Physicians love it.  Everyone's looking at the same information."

"We really appreciated the ease of installation; it worked very well, the technical assistance was very helpful, and the people were quite responsive.  The high quality of SwiftConvert output is evident whenever we open up images in HPF.  The speed of conversions was also very important; documents that go through SwiftConvert have to be - and are - indistinguishable from documents that are sent directly into HPF."

"The system as a whole has changed the workflow dramatically.  We know that SwiftConvert's ROI is a no brainer - we can't imagine being without it.  In fact, the purchase price is almost too low!"

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