Doctors trialing wireless enabled handheld devices to obtain immediate access to the latest patient information

The use of technology in medicine takes another step forward with a program being road-tested now at Creighton University Medical Center. Several Creighton residents are using wireless-enabled handheld devices to obtain immediate access to the latest patient information at their fingertips.

Long gone are the days of reading a patient’s chart hanging on a hospital bed. For years now, doctors have checked results of patient tests on desktop computers located throughout the hospital. Soon even this method will be obsolete as more and more doctors access real-time patient information via handheld devices on their way to see a patient, or during the patient visit.

Several doctors at Creighton University Medical Center are currently using the Lab and Radiology Access (LARA) system on handheld devices and are providing feedback for its ultimate design. LARA provides fast and secure access to patient vital signs, laboratory results, radiology reports and medications. It is expected to be made widely available sometime in October.

“This system is great,” said Hema Korlakunta, M.D., one of the Creighton residents using the LARA system. “I can confer with the patient about test results and can even show the results to the patient,” she said. “I don’t have to leave the room to check the computer or get a printout. It’s made patient care much more efficient, and I can use it anywhere in the hospital any time of the day or night.”

Samuel Caughron, M.D., a resident in the Department of Pathology, is the physician behind development and implementation of the LARA system at Creighton. According to Dr. Caughron, LARA’s features and design are being guided by the physicians who will ultimately use the system. Rather than purchase a generic product from a vendor, Dr. Caughron opted to custom-fit the technology to Creighton’s needs and then make the result available to other hospitals. Dundee Logic is the programming service provider.

“This is wireless technology by our doctors, for our doctors… with utmost concern for security,” said Dr. Caughron. LARA has multiple layers of security to protect the privacy of patients.

“Once fully implemented, the software will be made available under an open source license,” said Dr. Caughron. “By making the source code of LARA freely available, I hope to make it cheaper and easier for other institutions to implement similar systems.”

The LARA system and similar systems being implemented around the country are expected to increase physician efficiency, decrease hospital stays and reduce medical errors by providing physicians up-to-the-minute patient information, according to Dr. Caughron.

Creighton is an independent, comprehensive university operated by the Jesuits. Creighton has been ranked at or near the top of Midwestern universities in the U.S. News & World Report magazine’s “America’s Best Colleges” edition for more than a decade.

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