Monthly Archives: August 2011

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By Phil White

Dr. Jayne wrote a great post for HIStalk yesterday about how some East Coast hospitals have been using technology to better serve patients in the wake of Hurricane Irene.

This is not the only flooding healthcare facilities have faced this year – the Missouri River has burst its banks at several places in the Midwest. And beyond flooding, there are other natural disasters that hospitals must make contingency plans for – such as the tornado that laid waste to much of Joplin, Mo. in May.

One piece of the disaster planning/recovery puzzle that’s often overlooked is electronic forms, or e-forms as the cool kids call them. In addition to being costly to manage, pre-printed paper forms are vulnerable to flood, fire and other hazards. And if the health information system (HIS) goes down, hospital staff members must register patients by hand and then manually input their information later when the system is back up – a slow process requiring redundant, error-prone effort.

In June 2008, the Cedar River burst its banks. Cedar Rapids, Iowa lost power, businesses and homes in the flood plain were overwhelmed and the basement at Mercy Medical Center flooded, with many of the facility’s paper forms destroyed or damaged.

To make sure it has continuous access to patient forms in any circumstance, Mercy Medical deployed the downtime registration solution from Access, as part of an enterprise forms management project. This will enable the facility to electronically register patients and retrieve clinical forms on demand in the event of another natural disaster, or even during scheduled HIS downtime. And as forms are managed electronically, there’s no expensive paper stock to put at risk.

“Now that we’re using Access’s e-Forms Repository we’re confident that it would be business as usual if there was another flood,” said Mercy Medical systems analyst Vicki Wittmer. “The Access solution is a vital part of our disaster plan.”

Click here to read Mercy Medical’s success story

A leading Wash. hospital is using the world’s leading electronic forms on demand solution to:

> Meet ARRA EHR Meaningful Use requirements by electronically registering patients during Meditech downtime

> Creating barcoded e-forms on demand with patient info pulled from Meditech Magic

> Ensuring accurate scanning into Hyland-Valco enterprise document management with forms barcoding

> Eliminating version control issues & supporting JCAHO compliance by ensuring only current e-forms are used
Click here to read the full story

Outside magazine just released its 2011 Best Places to Work list - 50 companies that it deems successful in offering employees an exceptional environment. Outside’s criteria includes fitness benefits, green initiatives and community service. Other awards of this type – such as those in business journals and magazines such as Fortune – evaluate different markers of “success.”

So what about Access?

Here are some of the things our employees like about working at the world’s leading electronic forms software provider:


From day one, our new hires are given the chance to make a difference. We believe in only putting  what bestselling business writer Jim Collins calls “A- players on the bus,” and we empower everyone we bring in to hit the ground running right away. We trust our people, and they respond by producing exceptional work.


While we let employees’ results speak for themselves, each person that joins the Access team is challenged to grow professionally and personally by somebody who is further down the path. And it’s a two-way exchange – mentors can learn as much as they can teach in these relationships.

The True Value of ‘Team’ 

We understand that we cannot deliver our best to our customers without everyone’s contribution. Each department, each individual is as important as the next, and we recognize those who consistently go above and beyond.

Customer Focus

Our reason for being is to solve our customers’ pain points and to provide them with better ways to work. That’s why we listen to our customers, engage them at every stage of their projects, and build in their feedback to consistently improve our products and services. Our employees excel because they truly care about the needs of those we serve.

A Chance to Grow

A lot of companies hire from outside to fill leadership positions but at Access, but we prefer to develop leaders. By giving our employees every opportunity to gain the experience, skills and expertise needed to advance their careers, we strengthen our team from within.



I used to go through more reporter’s notebooks than should be legal. Why? Because I need to write things down. Now, being a writer, you may think that’s a given. But I’m not referring to copywriting in this case, but rather keeping weekly and daily task lists, writing self-reminders and recording ideas when they come to me. Trying to recall something even 30 minutes later on a typical busy day, for all the best intentions, just doesn’t happen unless I’ve written it down.

This practice of constant jotting fits into one of the steps of Access President Mark Johnston’s Four Principles of Getting Things Done Well – namely, organization. I am not a naturally organized person – just ask my long-suffering good lady wife! But I have learned that if I write down ideas and to-dos (and remember to cross the latter off as they’re completed) then I‘m far more productive in business and my family life.

However, it got to the stage where I had too many notebooks spread around my house – one in my home office (we’re a predominantly virtual company at Access), one in the kitchen and another on the nightstand, not to mention the couple in my laptop bag.

Keeping track of all this paper was starting to become counterproductive, so I invested in an HTC Flyer tablet and shelled out the extra it’s-embarrassing-to-say-how-many-dollars for an optional stylus (you’re killing me, Best Buy!). Now my digital ‘notepad’ goes wherever I go, and I can jot down my musings on the fly so I don’t lose them into the abyss of “I’m sure I’ll remember it later.” The 7-inch form factor is a lot easier to wield than an iPad, Xoom or Galaxy Tab 10.1 (for those of us who don’t have Dr. J-size hands, anyway), and it can actually fit in a decent-sized pocket. If you’re looking for a solid case so you don’t lose the ‘Magic Pen’ or scratch the nice aluminum back, check out this one from Sprint (which it offers for the Evo View, its 3G version of the Flyer).

Now my notes are logically organized on the Flyer, and also synched with my Evernote account. More than just an electronic file cabinet, this software does whizzo handwriting recognition so I can perform full content searches on all my notes to find a specific word using the Evernote web client. If you’d seen my excuse for handwriting, you’d know how impressive this technology truly is! I can also add tags to make searching even easier.

Another perfect use case for the Flyer is customer interviews. A large part of my time is spent arranging, conducting and writing up case studies and press releases, so I’m on the phone with customers a lot. Instead of writing in a paper notebook or on a tablet PC that weighs about 97 pounds and is as portable as one of those cell phones from the mid-1980s, I use the Flyer. It’s simple & convenient: put the phone on speaker, hold the Flyer in my left hand, the stylus in my right and scribble away. Then I do the write up directly from the tablet or web client – no more searching through dozens of pages. Another bonus is that using the Flyer fits in with Access’s goal of removing paper from processes – we practice what we preach, folks.

And if I’m not done looking at a screen when I finish work, I can use the Kobo e-reader app to peruse my small but growing digital library, and can write notes that I can search later. If I click the stylus on a web page it takes a photo of it, which I can then annotate and share as a jpeg via e-mail, Twitter or Facebook. It’s brilliant.

So if you’re into writing ideas down but are fed up with managing umpteen notebooks, check out the Flyer. Even if you’re not a writer by trade, this intentional practice plus this user-friendly gadget will help you get more out of your day.

Congratulations to 10 of our customers who have been named to the 2011 “Most Wired” hospitals list. The honorees are:

Beaufort Memorial Hospital, Beaufort, S.C.
Bridgeport Hospital, Bridgeport, Conn.
MedCentral–Mansfield Hospital, Mansfield, Ohio
Mercy Medical Center, Cedar Rapids, Iowa
Meridian Health, Neptune, N.J.
Mid-Valley Hospital, Omak, Wash.
Providence Holy Family Hospital, Spokane, Wash.
Providence Mount Carmel Hospital, Colville, Wash.
Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center & Children’s Hospital, Spokane, Wash.
William W. Backus Hospital, Norwich, Conn.
All these customers use the world’s leading electronic forms (e-forms) on demand solution, which enables them to cut costs, transition to EMRs/EHRs and improve patient care, service and safety.
Click here to read the full press release

Over on the Wall Street Journal’s website today, Dilbert creator Scott Adams (he’s not just a pictures guy, folks) has written a piece on the benefits of boredom, along with an obligatory hilarious cartoon.

Here’s what I got from the story when I took (gulp) 20 minutes to read it and mull it over:

In our constantly ‘connected’ workplace, most of us take the office with us everywhere we go. We get twitchy like a caffeine addict who’s stranded 200 miles from a Starbucks if we can’t check our e-mail every five minutes and try to cram our days with so much activity that we barely have time to, well, read today’s Dilbert.

And what is the fruit of this cult of busy? A lack of strategic thinking, a dearth of innovation, and the loss of true innovation.”Boredom,” or, as we could call it in our computer lingo-obsessed culture, “downtime” gives the mind time to do what it’s supposed to: think!

Imagine that! Rather than existing in this, and I  borrow this phrase from a dear colleague, “whack-a-mole” business culture where we are scurrying around like hard-driving worker ants trying, Mr. Adams suggests that we make time for boredom.

Why? So we can reflect on what we’ve done, what we’re doing and what we should be doing. To examine problems and think about them in new ways. To create silence and see what new ideas pop into our brains – if we haven’t popped them with too much instant messaging, texting and work-work-work, of course.

Some companies have institutionalized taking time to think – you may have heard of Google and Apple. So have truly innovative  business leaders, like Mr. Howard Schultz of Starbucks (see his latest book) and Mr. Bill Gates of Microsoft/The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Works for them, and we’re trying to follow their lead at Access. How about you?


By Megan Cullor

Product Specialist, Access


I’ll freely admit it — I’m an early adopter.  I bought the first generation iPad (a wifi-only 16GB model) when it first came out, and then sold it to my mom a couple of months later because I didn’t think I was using it enough to warrant buying it in the first place.  A few months went by, and I missed the darn thing!  I missed sitting on the couch browsing the Internet (a hot, bulky laptop just isn’t the same).  I missed the ease of writing a quick e-mail and not having to use my phone if I was away from my computer.  I missed Hulu and Netflix and the PBS app (Sherlock Holmes was an incredible little mini-series — have you seen it?).  And I missed Fruit Ninja and Angry Birds, darn it!  And Marple!  (If you haven’t played Marple yet, you’re definitely missing out)

So, I did what any self-respecting person would do.  I bought my original iPad back from my mom, who, frankly, jumped at the chance because she was looking to upgrade to a 3G 64GB version, anyway. (You think I’m an early adopter?  You should meet my mom!.)  I bought a great case for it, I watched shows on it in bed when I was sick, I surfed the Internet from the couch, and yes, I played Fruit Ninja and Angry Birds and Marple (and loved it!).

But a couple of months later, Steve Jobs did exactly what we all knew he was going to do — he announced the iPad 2.  Slimmer, shinier (seems like, anyway), and available in both black AND white!  Same size models were available — 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB — but this time with a faster processor, slightly improved memory, and…  dum dum dum… the Smart Cover!!!  [insert applause here]  So, what did I do?  I sold my original 16GB iPad and waited two…lonnnggg…weeks for the iPad 2.  Shipping took forever, and I eventually gave up and tracked down a gorgeous white 64GB iPad at Target, and canceled my first order.

Oh yes, the Smart Cover — wait, I’ll get to it in a bit.  This review is for the iPad 2.  I swear.

The first thing you’ll notice about the iPad 2 compared to the original iPad is the design.  This thing is so sleek and streamlined compared to the original, it’s not even funny.  It’s only 0.34 inches thick at its thickest point, compared to the iPad’s almost half-inch thickness.  It’s also a little shorter, and a bit less wide, and it weighs only 1.33 to 1.35 pounds (the 3G models weigh slightly more), compared to the original iPad, which weighed a pound and a half.  It’s not a huge difference in weight, but it’s enough of one that you’ll notice if you spent much time with the original.

Two cameras have been added, one in the front and one in the back, to use with apps like Facetime (video calling) and Photo Booth.  To be honest, I haven’t used either of these apps much, nor have I used the cameras very often at all.  I consider them more of a novelty, and my Evo has Qik if I plan to do video calling, or I use my MacBook Pro for Skype and short video recording.

The RAM was increased slightly to 512MB of RAM (seriously, Apple? not 1GB?!?), which I’ve noticed has aided in the decrease of apps crashing (could’ve been some apps just weren’t getting along, too), and it’s definitely snappier than the original.  A new CPU has also been added, replacing the original iPad’s A4 with their new A5, a 1GHz dual-core chip.

The screen is exactly the same as the original, which is still beautiful.  I’d said I wouldn’t upgrade to the iPad 2 if the screen quality didn’t increase, but I was desperately lacking space with my little 16GB iPad, and the 64GB upgrade has been great.  I can’t imagine anything less now.

My biggest concern with the iPad 2 was the gorgeous aluminum back.  I didn’t want it to get scratched up, and I knew that I’d be using it with my apple green Smart Cover (in a minute, I promise!), so I bought a GelaSkins skin for it, which has worked beautifully to protect the back.  I’d planned on covering the front of my iPad with the skin as well (my GelaSkin came with a front and a back), but the white glass bezel is so pretty that I decided not to cover it up.

And last but not least, the Smart Cover.  It’s so simple, yet so awesome.  My favorite color these days is green, so I ordered the apple green Smart Cover.  It has 21 magnets in the “spine” of the cover, which line up with the ten magnets in the iPad itself.  So far I haven’t experienced any issues with the magnets being near my Kindle (they’re buddies and travel together a lot), or near any of my other electronics, and I haven’t read many reports of issues, either.  The cover contains a small round magnet that activates a small inductive sensor inside the iPad 2′s bezel.  This sensor is responsible for the coolest thing about the Smart Cover/iPad 2 combo:  Just by lowering the cover onto the iPad, you can put the iPad to sleep; and to wake it up, simply lift the edge of the cover.  Too cool.  No more hitting the Home button and swiping to unlock (which, granted, takes about one second…), or fumbling around for the power button on top of the iPad.  Love it!

The added bonus for the Smart Cover is the fact that it rolls up onto itself and can act as a stand three different ways.  First, it can tilt the iPad just enough to be used for typing in landscape mode.  Second, if you turn it so that it’s standing propped up against the cover itself, it stands almost straight up (75-ish degrees, I’d say) and is great for a more upright display (again, in landscape mode).  Or, you can stand it up at a portrait orientation, and the folded cover helps it stand up at a full 90 degrees. My personal favorite is the lower landscape mode position.  Perfect for playing Angry B– I mean, working, testing our new Formatta iFiller for iPad:) (Editor’s note: More on this to come – stay tuned to this blog, our Twitter perch and our Facebook page).

I know there are many other tablets available now, but my main reason for choosing the iPad over all of the others is the sheer number of apps available.  Sure, the Android marketplace is catching up (I know this first hand, because I have an HTC Evo 4G phone and love the apps on it), but the apps I turn to time and time again are always in the Apple App Store.  One day that may change, and when it does, I’ll be there (maybe).  But in the meantime, the only move I’ll be making is to a different GelaSkin for the back.  Or to the iPad 3.  Or 4.  :)

Almost every healthcare IT product and service out their is marketed with fantastic claims of how the company’s offerings will meet the latest compliance standards, integrate with all your systems, and basically change the way things are done at your hospital.

However, when you read user comments on industry websites and blogs and talk to hospital staff members, it’s apparent that these promises often fall flat the day of implementation, once users realize there’s a big difference between the hype, buzzwords, and reality. This can even be the case before the go live, when it becomes clear that the seamless integration promised isn’t so seamless, the setup not quick and easy, and the professional services team far from responsive.

At Access, we prefer to let our customers do the talking. Want to know how our electronic forms solutions impact REAL people at real hospitals? See what our customers have to say in our case studies.