Archive for November 5, 2012

Registry Connects Functional Needs Residents to Safety During Emergencies

St. Louis developed an online database registry so residents with functional needs can be contacted by public health authorities in the event of an emergency. During emergencies, particularly ones that may require an evacuation, authorities can contact enrollees to help them get to safety.

Residents of any age who have functional needs that may prevent them from helping themselves during an emergency — whether it is due to a disability, age or other ailment — may be eligible to sign up for the Functional Needs Registry, which was developed under the St. Louis City Health Commissioner’s Investigation Authority.

According to the city, data gathered from enrollees through the registry can only be accessed and shared with public health authorities and co-investigators while planning for or during an emergency. None of the information is public record. Authorities who have access to the information are required to follow confidentiality restrictions implemented by the St. Louis Department of Health and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.

Participating in the registry is voluntary, and individuals who do enroll can decide how much personal information to submit. Dave Sykora, executive director of the St. Louis Area Agency on Aging, said since the registry was implemented, more than 4,000 people have registered.

After a resident submits his or her information for inclusion in the Functional Needs Registry, a review team screens and approves the data. Once OK’d, the database is updated with the person’s information, including his or her name, address, phone number and emergency contact information. The registry also is designed to allow individuals to provide other pertinent information such as medications they’re taking and insurance information.

“If they’re willing to provide that information, then we can track that so that in the event we do have to evacuate them, we would have it,” Sykora said.

He said the idea for a centralized registry arose in 2006 after a major storm hit St. Louis leaving the city without power for nearly nine days. At the time, the Area Agency on Aging only had one database it could use to contact the functional needs community. However, the database wasn’t comprehensive, since only residents who received certain government services were listed in it.

For example, some of the registrants were individuals who had signed up for the agency’s home-delivery meal program. But Sykora said the agency had no way of knowing how to contact individuals who could be potentially vulnerable during an emergency who weren’t registered with any of the agency’s services.

Once the registry was developed, individuals already enrolled in services like the meal-delivery program were grandfathered into the centralized database since their information was already on record for receiving government services.

St. Louis’ 2006 storm occurred shortly after Hurricane Katrina, a factor that also influenced the city to develop a centralized registry, Sykora said. The Functional Needs Registry was implemented just a couple years after.

When the St. Louis storm hit, the National Guard helped individuals get to safety, but no online system was used to do so.

“They ended up essentially going down the street knocking on doors, because we really didn’t have a tool to determine who were vulnerable or had needs,” Sykora said.

Earlier this year, the Functional Needs Registry was named by Harvard University’s Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation as one the 111 Bright Ideas in government.

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Nebraska Issues Handicap Placards Online

Securing a handicap placard for drivers in Nebraska can be a time-consuming endeavor. After downloading an application from the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) website, patients must make an appointment to see their doctor to get their application filled out and approved. Next comes a visit to a DMV office with the application and ID, which is followed by the waiting game while the state processes the request and mails out the placard. From start to finish, getting the placard issued can easily take several weeks.

Betty Johnson, the DMV administrator charged with oversight of the handicap parking program, told Government Technology that during an agencywide review of agency procedures, placard processing surfaced as an area that could be improved.

“Our previous process really was very cumbersome, and required the exact people that we shouldn’t force to make several stops to make several stops to apply for the permits,” Johnson explained. “It was really important to us that we streamline this from their perspective.”

The agency spent two years developing an electronic permit processing system. This included preparing the necessary changes to state statutes, which were signed by Gov. Dave Heineman in February 2011. The DMV’s technical partner on the project is Nebraska Interactive, a division of e-government company NIC.

A group of practitioners from the Nebraska Medical Association was enlisted to test a mockup of the electronic system. Once their suggestions to improve the online process were incorporated, the system was ready for a limited rollout.

The DMV partnered with a busy orthopedic center in Lincoln that approves a significant amount of handicap permit requests. Once the 30-day pilot program ran its course, officials decided that electronic processing was ready for statewide release.

The new online system provides access to any licensed physician, physician’s assistant or nurse practitioner in the state of Nebraska – the same group authorized to approve paper applications. They enter patient information and provide their approval. Data is then transmitted electronically to the DMV.

At the DMV, officials review and accept approved placard applications, which are automatically added to the state’s database. Permits are then printed and mailed to patients. The simpler process shaves as much as two weeks off the DMV’s total processing time.

Electronic processing also saves critical time for medical offices by removing several manual steps required with paper forms and allowing providers to import an electronic receipt of the approved placard transaction directly into a patient’s medical record.

The Nebraska DMV is spreading the word to medical offices throughout the state that this new option is available. To date, every Nebraska medical license holder authorized to approve handicap permits for patients has been notified that the electronic option is online. Early statistics reveal that several hundred practitioners have taken advantage of the new service. According to officials, during the week of October 22, nearly 18 percent of all handicap permit processing was completed online.

To reach its goal of 80 percent online processing, the DMV will continue its outreach and education effort, publicizing the availability of the service to medical providers, partner organizations and directly to patients.

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8 Definitive Skills Required in Medical Transcriptionists

Medical transcriptionists need to have certain key skill-sets to be successful in medical transcription domain. In this article; we look at distinct skill-sets required by medical transcriptionists in medical transcription business.

Medical transcription business is expanding on a daily basis. We are already seeing a lot of demand for specialized services of medical transcriptionists in the market. There are several skill sets required for a medical transcriptionist to be successful in their profession. Let us look at these skills individually:

Exceptional control over grammar, spelling and punctuation:  Medical transcriptionist should have exceptional spelling skills. It is always recommended for the medical transcriptionist to have a dictionary with them but do not ponder over the words excessively; because most probably they are paid for the amount they type. Good grammar skills and punctuation marks will give them an edge over their competitors. Concentration for longer period of time: A medical transcriptionist needs to sit in front of computers for longer period of time. Good focus on the transcribed document can reduce the number of mistakes in the patient’s medical report. Mistakes can endanger the lives of patients hence; proper care needs to be taken while transcribing the document.Work without supervision and stay motivated: Sometimes medical transcriptionists need to work from home. At that point, it becomes very important for them to stay motivated so that they can work without any supervision. Turnaround time for the reports need to be met; as a report is due in only one or two hours after it is dictated.Exceptional research skills:  A medical transcriptionist must have excellent research skills. They should not only have the right reference books, but they should also be able to pick the right book quickly. The medical transcriptionist should be able to find hospitals and physicians; in case if there is any spelling mistake or abbreviations.Above average typing skills: Good typing skills are must for an excellent medical transcriptionist.  Without typing speed it becomes very difficult for the medical transcriptionist to complete their targets and get the desired career results.A good memory: Medical transcriptionists need to have a good memory. It is not possible for them to stop every now and then to look for things and yet be accurate.Desire for continuous education: Medical transcriptionist need to continuously update themselves with new medications, new surgical instruments, and even new diseases. There are always new things to learn everyday in the medical transcription field. Hence, medical transcriptionist need to regularly update themselves with new revisions.Learn new languages and accents: With the advancement in technology, medical transcriptionists need to prepare transcriptions for doctors residing in different regions and different accents. The more accustomed the medical transcriptionist is; the better changes of growth are available to them.

Medical transcriptionists need to have passion for words, curiosity for meaning and desire to continuously grow in this demanding field. A global medical transcription company will always recruit the best medical transcriptionists after evaluating the necessary skill-sets specified above.

Mediscribes, Inc. is one of the fastest growing Medical Transcription & document management systems providers in United States, based in Metro Louisville. Mediscribes is an ISO 9000-2001 certified company, rendering cost-effective consolidated transcription solutions to major hospitals, clinics, and other healthcare facilities in United States. Mediscribes is the most value-providing organization in the market today with a strong presence in America and offshore locations. The firm specializes in providing highly accurate transcription adhering to ADHI guidelines in unbeatable turnaround time with robust & proven document management system as its vantage point to its esteemed clientele.

Mediscribes provides end-to-end transcription solutions as its primary offering. For our customers, we focus on dictation systems, both ASP as well as enterprise level solutions, with the help of our most valued asset   ezVoiceIntelligence (ezVI), providing specialty-specific qualitative transcription along with a “whole nine yards” document management system. Mediscribes specializes in EMR data integration as well. Our data dispatch department is highly proficient in integrating transcribed reports into any type of EMR. Healthcare facilities that do not have EMR get the option to use our web-based file monitoring interface called eTranscribe for global access to their data. eTranscribe has special features of E-signing, E-faxing, auto-printing, and user-friendly document search criteria.

For additional information, please visit

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Virginia Launches Online Public Assistance System

Virginians in need of public assistance can now file for benefits online from the comfort and privacy of home.

The state launched CommonHelp, a self-service website that allows residents to apply for benefits, check on the status of applications or renew for assistance electronically. The system saves them the hassle of having to travel to a social services branch office to do paperwork and speeds the process of eligibility determination.

Developed in tandem by Deloitte and Virginia technology and social services staff, the site went live earlier this month. CommonHelp took approximately 18 months to build and can be used by citizens to apply for the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program, child-care services, energy assistance, food assistance and some medical assistance.

“Virginians can now apply for our services 24 hours a day, seven days a week, from their homes, libraries, schools or anywhere the Internet is available to them,” said Virginia Department of Social Services Commissioner Martin D. Brown in a statement. “For some of our most vulnerable citizens, including the disabled and seniors, online services will make it easier to screen and apply for assistance.”

In an interview with Government Technology, Virginia Secretary of Health and Human Resources William A. Hazel said the change was necessary due to aging back-end processing systems and a huge uptick in the number of people applying for benefits the past few years. 

Hazel explained that three years ago, approximately 600,000 people were enrolled in Medicaid. But with the difficulties brought on by the recession, that number is now roughly 960,000. In addition, eligibility determinations have skyrocketed, with more than 1.2 million being done last year for Medicaid and another 1.1 million for the state’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

But as the applications have increased, the budget for staffing, benefit eligibility determinations and other related tasks has not. Hazel said the situation has increased the amount of time customers have to wait for their eligibility to be verified and a backlog of work on staff that turns into error rates on applications.

In 2009, the percentage of errors on a Medicaid eligibility application was 16 percent — pieces of information were missing, applications were incomplete, etc. That drove the decision to create CommonHelp.

“We were faced with the thought that we had to have a more permanent solution to provide better access to citizens and reduce the eligibility application [error] rates,” Hazel said.

“This ultimately is not simply about eligibility determinations,” he added. “It’s about better case management and providing a higher quality service and being able to measure the results of the services we provide.”

Deloitte’s involvement in the project began years ago. The company was originally brought on by the Virginia Department of Social Services to build a website so that residents could apply online for child-care benefits.

But as the Department of Health and Human Resources decided to integrate its siloed systems and transition to service-oriented architecture — a collection of Web services and technology components that can help connect disparate systems — the initial child-care project was expanded.

Deloitte used the original technology it developed for a similar project in Michigan and adapted it to fit Virginia’s needs.

Virginia staff was also a big part of the portal’s development. The language used on the website was vetted through test audiences to ensure words were understandable, and social service workers were consulted so that the system was intuitive even to users not familiar with computers.

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NY Digital Health Accelerator Names Inaugural Participants

The inaugural participants in the New York Digital Health Accelerator (NYDHA) program, which seeks to make the state a hub for the emerging digital health technology industry, were announced Oct. 15. The eight companies — AdhereTx, Aidin, Avado, CipherHealth, Cureatr, MedCPU, Remedy Systems and SpectraMD — provide services ranging from Web-based platforms to data analytics, and will have access to senior-level health-care providers that will serve as mentors for nine months.

“With its initial investment of $4.2 million, the NYDHA program will create approximately 1,500 jobs over five years,” the New York eHealth Collaborative stated in a press release. “In addition, it is expected that the companies will attract upwards of $150 million to $200 million in investment from the venture capital community post-program.”

Along with mentorship, each of the selected companies will also receive up to $300,000. Each company has also committed to opening an office in New York, and participants will have access to the Statewide Health Information Network of New York, an electronic health record platform.

“The accelerator provides much-needed, valuable tools for providers in support of New York state’s Medicaid redesign initiative,” New York Health Commissioner Nirav Shah said. “The initiative, which promotes a shift from the costly fee-for-service model to a more effective and efficient managed care approach, is resulting in better care — at lower cost — for patients across the continuum of care. The accelerator is an essential first step to stimulate the market and nurture innovation within the entrepreneurial community.”

The program received 250 applications from companies located in 27 states and 10 countries.

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