Gadget glory

December 3, 2010

Review 10 of the latest devices in Medical Economics' annual list of new technology products for practice.

Change can be difficult. Many physicians who have transitioned from paper to an electronic health record (EHR) system say it was the most challenging thing they've done in their career since launching their practice or completing their medical training.

If your practice is already electronic, congratulations-you are ahead of the curve. However, many of you haven't yet taken the plunge, and others are straddling paper and electronic as they consider making a transition, so that's why many of the 10 devices presented in our annual list of new technology products for your practice are focused on helping you balance those 2 worlds.

The devices featured in the following pages are either new to the market or have been improved in recent months with value-added features to make the tools faster, cheaper, and/or more efficient and therefore deserve another look.

LABELWRITER 450

BY: DYMO, a division of Newell Rubbermaid

COST: Models range from $109.99 to $299.99

CONTACT: http://www.Dymo.com

HOW IT WORKS: This compact printer plugs into any PC or Mac through a USB port and produces barcodes, address labels, folder labels, appointment cards, and name badges from any computer in your network, even if the computers are not in the same office.

WHY: Even though your practice might be electronic, it's likely that not all of the hospitals, labs, specialists, and other organizations you exchange information with are sending you documents electronically. Using a barcode for those documents could be the link between the paper and electronic worlds.

PROS: Having a barcode assigned to all your patients could save a lot of data entry later and reduce errors. The LabelWriter 450 doesn't take up much desk space and can print up to 51 labels per minute. Best of all, the printer doesn't require ink or toner cartridge refills because the ink is inside the labels.

CONS: If all your patients don't already have a barcode assigned to them, it could be a time-consuming project to start tracking patients this way.

INTELLIFAX-2920

BY: Brother

COST: $299.99 (You can find it for less if you search online.)

CONTACT: http://www.Brother.com

HOW IT WORKS: The IntelliFAX operates the same as an ordinary fax machine by connecting through a phone or data line, but it offers high-tech enhancements for a more highly regulated 21st century.

WHY: Even in an electronic world, there is not a medical practice out there that doesn't still receive a lot of faxes. The problem is that older fax machines with replaceable film rolls leave behind a complete image of whatever you've printed out. Personal information, claims, and billing records get tossed out when the film roll goes in the trash. The result is potential identity theft. The IntelliFAX doesn't use a film roll, and the machine can be password-protected overall or just by function, such as: fax send, fax receive, print, copy, or scan.

PROS: The IntelliFAX has a 600-page fax memory and can fax, copy, and print 15 pages per minute, roughly a page every 2 seconds.

CONS: Like all printers and faxes, toner cartridge replacement costs can add up. The replacement cartridges for the IntelliFAX cost $59 at several office supply stores we checked.