Hospitals know how important it is for information to get from one place to another fast when it comes to a patient's emergency situation. Fulton County Hospital, in its ever evolving quest to better serve its community, is trying to do just that by implementing a new digital dictation system on Dec. 16.
According to Suzette Burk, the medical records supervisor at the hospital, the new system allows doctors and radiologists to pick up any phone, either in their office or their cell phone or even at home, and dictate a patient's records. Burk said another way physicians can dictate is through a dictation mic that is supplied in several locations throughout the hospital.
These dictations are digitally recorded to a computer and put into a computerized list for personnel in the medical records department to transcribe. "We just sit there and type until there is no more typing to do," Burk said.
There are three transcription machines that any of the five employees in the medical records department can use at any given time. Burk said she can track almost anything with the new system. She can go back to any dictation and find out who transcribed it and when it was done and who for.
It is usually first come, first serves on what gets transcribed first, Burk said. However, there is a way doctors can mark their dictations as being priority, such as in the case of a critical patient being transfered to another hospital. Burk said if a physician marks their dictation as priority, it automatically gets bumped up the list as first to transcribe. "If (doctors) have a priority, if they have somebody they are going to (transfer) by Air Evac, they can push a button that says, 'This is priority' and it moves to the top of the list," Burk said.
The new system is a lot easier than the old way of doing things, according to Burk. She said the old way required small cassette tapes and recorders, which would sometimes break or jam in the machines. Blank tapes would also have to be sent over to the radiologists in Mountain Home (the hospital's imaging is now done in Batesville) to dictate what they had and then the tape had to be sent back to Salem for transcribing.
"Used to, the floor would call us and say they had a tape," Burk said. "We would have to get up from here and go all the way to the nurse's station, grab the tape and come back and plug it into our machine. This (the new dictation system), because it's digital, there's no static. The clarity is wonderful."
Doctors are also impressed with the new system. "The doctors are happy because the radiology reports are getting on the film as fast as we can type them," Burk said.
"It's been a good thing for us," Dr. Griffin Arnold said. He said X-ray readings are done anywhere between 12 and 24 hours where it use to take a week. "It puts us very close to being in the 21st century," Dr. Arnold said.
Since the new dictation system has been operational, the medical records department has transcribed 497 jobs. Burk said a dictation can usually be typed within an hour if it has to be. "We're at 100 percent right now," Burk said.