Archive for March 25, 2013

Illinois DHS Digitizes Forms, Leverages Mainframe Technology

To most efficiently realize cost savings with an IT transformation, the Illinois Department of Human Services (DHS) decided against digitizing paper benefit eligibility forms the agency has been accumulating for years. Instead, starting early last year, the department started digitizing all new eligibility forms.

DHS secretary Michelle R.B. Saddler said the agency, which is responsible for providing integrated services through 100 Family and Community Resource Centers, generates 7 million paper forms a year. Given recent leadership changes at the state level, Saddler said the agency began looking for a new way to reduce paper and improve file management while maintaining cost efficiency.

“Part of the initiative led to discussion of needing to digitize file cabinets, but digitizing and imaging for the thousands of file cabinets that we have was really cost prohibitive,” Saddler said.

DHS CIO Doug Kasamis then spearheaded efforts to digitize and store three types of benefit eligibility determination forms, which collectively make up nearly 70 percent of the agency’s total form volume. These forms are currently created on the department’s mainframe technology.

But instead of sending the forms to a print queue for printing, they are now turned into PDFs with their corresponding metadata – like case number and recipient ID – and then stored securely in an IBM content management system. Within four weeks’ time, the content management system was deployed statewide for the DHS’ 200 offices and 2,000 case workers.

Kasamis said that the department determined it was more cost effective for the agency not to scan and digitize forms the department already has stored in file cabinets, and to only digitize forms from present day forward. The department’s records retention policy requires that forms be stored for five years, so as the DHS continues to digitize forms, forms that are currently stored in hard copy will be phased out.

“Rather than trying to figure out a way to scan all that legacy paper, we’re basically getting rid of 20 percent of our problem every year over the next five years,” Kasamis said.

The IBM technology cost the department $325,000 and Kasamis said the DHS saw return on investment within three months of deployment. In the future, the DHS plans to integrate its other 15 form types into the system to be digitized and stored electronically. Currently the electronic data is housed in Illinois’ statewide data center, but there are no immediate plans to migrate the data into a cloud computing environment.

Ken Bisconti, vice president of products and strategy for IBM’s enterprise content management software, said because the content management system is designed to hold large amounts of data, there isn’t a pressing need to delete files from the system after the forms have been stored electronically for their required five years.

“These content management systems are capable of storing hundreds of millions, if not billions, of items and documents,” Bisconti said.

According to Kasamis, the DHS has seen a reduction of 650,000 paper forms each month since the IBM technology was deployed in early 2012. The department has already reduced its paper load by 7.5 million forms.

Saddler said the new system will prevent the DHS from using 40 10-foot-by-10-foot file storage rooms per year for storing paper files.

In October of this year, the DHS will also implement a new system to follow new Affordable Care Act requirements. The agency plans to implement the Medicaid eligibility system and integrate it with its IBM content management system. According to the DHS, some legislative uncertainties remain regarding the Affordable Care Act, so issues surrounding the new system’s compliance requirements are subject to change before its October implementation.

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NYC Targets Teen Pregnancy with Mobile Phone Game

A new campaign launched last week by the New York City Human Resources Administration is making waves thanks to its frank depiction of the harsh realities of unplanned teen pregnancy. 

The Teen Pregnancy Prevention campaign combines ads designed by the city’s Office of Communications and Marketing with social media, video and even an interactive texting game. 

The campaign’s ads, which appear on buses and subway trains, pull no punches. The ads (one of which is shown at left) feature distraught-looking children and provocative messages such as “Dad, you’ll be paying to support me for the next 20 years,” and “I’m twice as likely to not graduate high school because you had me as a teen.” 

In a clever appeal to the target demographic, the campaign also includes a “choose your own adventure” style texting game. By texting NOTNOW to 877877, anyone can play the game, which has you choosing to act on behalf of either Louis or Anaya, two fictitious 16-year-olds who are dating.

The game begins with Anaya’s discovery that she is pregnant. Once a player chooses either Louis or Anaya, the game sends text message scenarios with two choices. Each choice leads to other scenarios, which generally illustrate the difficulties of teen pregnancy. 

The game has been criticized by several media outlets. The New York Daily News deemed the effort a “Shame Campaign,” while an article on The Today Show’s website decried the game for apparently failing to offer abortion as a solution — and claiming that the Louis character demeans Anaya in one scenario, supposedly calling her a “fat loser.”

Government Technology contacted the city to answer questions about the game and for a response to the criticisms, but received no reply by press time. 

So I decided to try the game myself, twice as Louis and once as Anaya.

First, as Louis, I made only what seemed to be the best choices:

NYC: DYK as a teen you can call 311 for sexual health care services and contraception near you? Text “more” to play a game.

ME: More

NYC: Hey my name is Louis – my GF Anaya is pregnant! Prom is coming up and she’s not going, should I stay in with Anaya or go to Prom? Reply “PromYes” or “PromNo”

ME: PromNo

NYC: Can’t believe I missed Prom! I need more time with my boys! Should I go shoot hoops w/ them or go w/ Anaya to the doc? Reply “Doc” or “Hoop”

ME: Doc

NYC: I saw the sonagram and still can’t believe I am going to be a father. I need to provide for the baby, should I get a job? Reply “Yes” or “No”

ME: Yes

NYC: Just failed Math and I might not graduate. Should I try to pass Math or get my GED later? Reply “Math” or “GED”

ME: Math

NYC: I’m doing OK in school, can’t wait till I’m done. But Anaya needs more money for the baby – should I get a job or focus on my future? Text “Job” or “Future”

ME: Job

NYC: Louis graduated H.S., but had to put his life on hold after that. Now, he can’t afford to go to college, and has a lot less free time. Text “Done”

Next I tried the game with Louis making what, to me, were the worst possible choices. 

NYC: Hey my name is Louis – my GF Anaya is pregnant! Prom is coming up and she’s not going, should I stay in with Anaya or go to Prom? Reply “PromYes” or “PromNo”

ME: PromYes

NYC: Prom was great, but Anaya won’t talk to me. She’s even ignoring me in school. Should I get her a gift and say sorry? Text “Gift” or “NoGift”

ME: NoGift

NYC: Anaya and I are over! But I am still going to be a great dad. Should I start buying baby clothes or buy new shoes? Reply “Clothes” or “Shoes”

ME: Shoes

NYC: I’m rocking my new kicks, but I’m behind on child support. Should I work overtime to pay off child support or go out with friends? Text “Child” or “Friends”

ME: Friends

NYC: Got a warning letter from the gov’t. They said there’d be “legal consequences” if I don’t pay my debt. What should I do? Text “Ignore” or “Respond”

ME: Ignore

NYC: Louis had his driver license suspended for not paying child support! Now he has to apply for a work-only permit just to get to his job & school. Text “Done”

Finally, I attempted the game as Anaya, meaning I had to imagine what I would choose were I a pregnant, 16-year-old girl. 

NYC: OMG! My BF Louis and I got pregnant. He was going to take me to prom. Now I will look huge in my dress. Should I go? Text “Yes” or “No”

ME: Yes

NYC: My BFF called me a “loser” at prom. I was devastated. Now she’s texting me. Should I text her back? Reply “TextYes” or “TextNo”

ME: TextYes

NYC: My friend says I should get a job to pay for the baby. Should I be a waitress or a cashier? Text “Wait” or “Cash”

ME: Cash (note: I figured that job has more stability)

NYC: Being a cashier is tough – pregnancy makes me tired. After work, should I finish my math homework or just go to sleep. Text “Math” or “Sleep”

ME: Math

NYC: Got a B in Math! But I’m nervous about how I’ll pay for my baby. My `rents won’t talk to me. Should I call my sis for advice? Text “Call” or “NoCall”

ME: Call

NYC: You finished 8th! (note: no ranking system was ever conveyed). Louis pays child support. In NY, you must pay child support until the kid is 21 or face losing your license & possible jail time. 

The game ended, and I was invited to invite my friends to play. The scenarios I encountered seemed random and illogical, making it appear as if the entire campaign is less about informing teens about what to do should they become pregnant and more about scaring them away from the risky behavior to begin with.

I also did not encounter the “fat loser” insult The Today Show claimed to have discovered; it’s possible the offensive word was removed since it was reported.   

Despite the campaign’s widespread criticism, a reader poll on The Today Show‘s blog post that asked what readers think of the anti-teen pregnancy ads showed that most think the ads are good. Of the nearly 17,500 votes on the morning of March 11, only 14 percent of readers said they did not like them. 

Whether the same can be said for the mobile game is not yet determined. 

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

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The future of the Semantic Web: cultural heritage and privacy

By Dr. Heather Packer, Research fellow, the University of Southampton.

After attending both the International Semantic Web Conference (ISWC) and the Joint International Semantic Technology Conference (JIST), I considered what this meant for research and development in this exciting area.

Some of the most interesting work presented at ISWC and JIST were in the areas of cultural heritage, such as the recording of personal stories, and integrating historic maps with new timelines. This was highlighted in the opening keynote at JIST, which was given by Eero Hyvönen of Aalto University in Finland, presenting its work on using Semantic Web technologies to preserve Finnish cultural heritage.

These included the preservation of ancient shoemaking methods, through the digitisation and documentation using Semantic Web metadata with multimedia, interviews and written sources. Secondly, the complete transcription of the Finnish national epic, the Kalevala, into a Semantic narrative, and the process by which topics are linked from their own ontology portal, so that topical connections in the Kalevala narrative can be made with other Finnish cultural heritage work.

Aalto University’s work shows that Semantic Web technologies, such as its Cultural Sampo ontology portal, allow cultural heritage artefacts and narratives from multiple sources to be brought together and automatically cross-referenced. Examples were shown where the cross-linking between sources has already benefitted researchers, with technical barriers easily overcome.

In the future, I am aiming to work towards a Semantic Web which will allow narratives to share workflows and stories about companies, as opposed to more traditional methods like statistics calculated from databases. These narratives can be used to explain things based on people’s past experiences and their interests (taken from their actions on the web), to make them both more useful and engaging.

One problem, however, arises from where is it acceptable to gather and use data. Many of the people I have spoken to in academia and industry have said that information taken from their emails is too intrusive and people as a whole are unwilling to use such a system. However, people are more willing to adopt systems that use information from social networks where they can freely censor information about themselves.

Yet in my experience the most useful information is often to be found precisely in private online places such as email and calendars. In the future I would like the Semantic Web to allow me to attend a conference in another country, and automatically (with optional and minimal input) handle my flights, hotels, conference registrations and restaurant recommendations based on preferences that I had made in the past, such as price range and hotel recommendations and amenities.

In addition to academic research, the Semantic Web also has applications for business and handling personal data. The latter, in particular, has recently seen its research spurred on by a number of initiatives, including the midata initiative from the UK government’s Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS). The initiative, which is due to start in 2013, mandates that companies must supply data they hold about a person back to that person in a machine readable format, and under an open licence.

The Semantic Web provides an obvious framework for enabling this at low cost to businesses – there are already numerous examples of marking up personal data under appropriate licenses such as the Open Government license used on Semantic Web technologies would therefore enable businesses to comply with new data protection legislation in a cost-effective manner. End-users that receive their data will also benefit, because there are numerous analysis, visualisation and storage mechanisms which already work with Semantic Web data.

The need for storing, managing, using and sharing personal data continues to grow. In response, numerous business startups which focus on providing such services have been launched. Meanwhile groups such as the W3C Read Write Web community group are discussing approaches to using Semantic Web techniques for publishing, receiving and sharing private data. For users this means that it will be easier to make their data work for them, including sites that use your data to help you save money, such as Bill Monitor, which analyses your mobile phone bill to find out how much you can save by getting a new phone contract. It is very likely that similar services will exist in the future for other utilities, such as electricity, gas, and broadband.

The future of the Semantic Web is making it easier to access increasingly richer presentations of our history and heritage, and also publish, and thus increase the amount of cultural heritage material being preserved and made available online. The future of personal data is also one which is expanding rapidly, towards the goal of helping people to make more financially beneficial purchases, and to better manage their private data.

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Determining the right tool for your transcription needs

My blogs have always concentrated on providing different ways through transcription process can be made better. This write-up is no different. In this blog; I have mentioned two of the most important dictation tools that reign right now in the transcription domain along with their advantages and disadvantages to showcase their prowess and efficiency to my readers.

As we move into the 21st century, there are probably two most important tools that reign in the medical transcription domain. They are digital recorder and telephone dictation. With times this debate has heightened as in which of these two tools is the most efficient for transcription needs. Now you might be wondering; why I have changed my focus from medical transcriptionists to tools that medical practitioners use for recording their interaction with the patient. As I have already discussed in my previous blogs it has become mandatory for medical practitioners to record their patient records for getting insurance from the insurance companies. Now this is a very crucial component wherein these two tools play a very important role.

Now let me start off with different options that medical practitioners had in the past. The old Dictaphone machines were quite large and stationary. With times; handheld tape recorders were used which were followed by micro and mini-cassette tape recorders. However, it was found that there were lot of limitations in these tools. One of the prime being portable caused the challenge of being lost or misplaced easily. The other limitation was that they needed to be connected with a PC to download the files being transcribed. Now it is not that easy to download the files popping out of a tape, putting in a new one and continue recording. Hence; there was a need to introduce a digital recorder with a removable memory card and a memory card attached to your PC. This was a huge change.

Today medical practitioners have two options as discussed earlier. Both these options require several factors for optimal usage – low ambient or background noise, clear dictation and knowledge of how to use them.

Now digital recorders have the various features of a tape recorder like slide switches for pausing, rewinding and fast forwarding. Less expensive ones have buttons instead of slide switches and it takes quite some time to use them effectively. Handheld recorders are portable that can be carried anywhere which is a great advantage. As the medical practitioner can dictate the notes on the go while examining the patient. But the one limitation of the digital recorders is that the dictation needs to be downloaded on a PC – either through USB cable or a removable storage disk reader and upload it to the transcriptionist’s computer. There are different formats that are provided by the manufacturers but most of them are highly compressed and easily downloaded by the transcriptionist.

On the other hand; telephone dictation systems can be operated only through telephone and that too a landline phone rather than mobile phones. This is done to ensure high quality of recorded voice.  Since they are not portable; medical practitioners cannot use them while examining the patients.  The beauty of this recording system is that once the file is recorded it is automatically saved. It does not require to be uploaded to computer; and then sent to the transcriptionist. The entire file movement is done through the dictation system and is done securely. There is no time delay in uploading the files as they are automatically saved with the system.

Ultimately it is the choice of the medical practitioner to decide on the preferably method for dictation. But medical practitioners who have become habituated to tape recorders now use digital recorders as they are similar in dictation style. Others who have learned dictating through hospital-based telephone use telephone-based dictation system. Then there are others who make their decision based on the system which is more automated. Now in this case telephone dictation system win the race as they can be automatically saved; thereby providing embedded security and queue up the dictation by transcription as soon as the medical practitioner finishes dictating.

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

Media Contact (Mediscribes)
Mike Perry

Tags: Cardiology Transcription, Medical Dictation, Medical Transcription, Medical Transcription Companies, Medical Transcription Service, Medical Transcription Services, Outsource Medical Transcription, , Transcription Service

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Will Changes to HIPAA Help Secure Health Data?

Last year, large data breaches in hospitals and health organizations led to the release of millions of private records. This is a growing problem, according to two security experts who spoke in an online presentation on Feb. 19. Speakers Mac McMillan, CEO of CynergisTek Inc., and Eran Farajun, executive vice president of Asigra, presented the current climate of IT security in health care and outlined upcoming legislative changes that organizations should be ready for.

According to McMillan, as health-care organizations transition toward electronic health records and the increased prevalence of bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policies, there are a lot of risks for IT managers to consider. The South Carolina Department of Health had records on more than 228,000 people compromised after an employee stole and emailed the data to a private email account. The Utah Department of Health was infiltrated from abroad when a hacker stole information on about 780,000 Medicaid patients and recipients of the Children’s Health Insurance Plan. The hacker was reportedly able to access the information by guessing a weak password. These two high-profile cases are by no means exceptions, according to the presenters.

“We know that we’re still averaging somewhere around 15 major breaches a month,” McMillan said, adding that the question is not if, but when an organization will be affected. “… the more due diligence we apply in our data protection activities the less risk we have of those things happening.”

IT leaders need to take a fresh look at how data is managed within an organization, McMillan explained, pointing to the risks inherent in storing data on mobile devices. “The question should really be asked, ‘Should the data be on there in the first place?’. In other words, does the data need to live on a device or does the data just need to be presented on the device …,” McMillan asked.

To help cut down on data breaches in health care, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) published updates in January to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) that dramatically shift the approach health organizations need to take with IT security. The changes, which take effect on March 26 and will be enforced starting Sept. 23, usher in new requirements for how health organizations handle data breaches. The new rules also change who is allowed access to different types of data, and redefine the term “data breach.” Things like more thorough documentation requirements are aimed at holding organizations to a higher standard of responsibility for the data they steward.

Currently an organization has no burden of proof following a data breach to show that data was or was not compromised, McMillan said, but this is about to change. “The final rule takes a 180[-degree] approach in that it makes the assumption there was a breach until the organization proves there was no compromise,” he said.

Transitioning to this new climate in a few short months will not be easy, McMillan said, especially with the limited resources available to health-care organizations. “This is something that the industry is really going to have to address from a leadership perspective as far as making a commitment to doing this correctly and providing their staffs and organizations with the things that they need to be successful,” he said.

Farajun suggested that health-care leaders should not be daunted by what can appear to be a huge task, and should seek help in meeting these new requirements. “There are solutions and methods and tactics to achieve the outcomes that they need to be doing,” Farajun said. “They don’t really have a choice anymore.”

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