Committtee approves capital purchases

ALPENA – The Alpena Regional Medical Center Finance/Cost Containment Committee approved the purchase of three capital acquisition items to be recommended to the full board at its meeting Thursday.

The committee approved to recommend an Avasure video surveillance system that will improve patient observation and communications technology to reduce sitter program costs and provide easier oversight to more fall-risk patients, especially on the medical and surgical floors. The software runs on standard Windows operating systems, and would replace the current unreliable camera system, which was new in 1992, and has now become obsolete. Video surveillance in common and active areas is necessary for patient, staff and visitor safety, and this system would also provide personnel with oversight and protection in patient rooms.

This is newer technology and gives nurses an opportunity to view patients when they wake up and speak to them when it’s appropriate instead of having someone there all the time. If the hospital continued to use its current system in these areas, the cost would be over $1 million.

The purchase cost is $122,966.97, and the new system is projected to reduce one-to-one sitter care hours by 30 percent, amounting to a cost savings of $293,285.

The committee also recommended to update the hospital’s current version of Dictaphone, which is not compatible with Windows systems newer than Windows XP, to a current version of eScription that is compatible with Windows 7 or a newer operating system.

“The Nuance software is used by all of our physicians to dictate and adversly the transcription is to transcribe,” George Smart, vice president of finance, said. “The software upgrade was required because of the XP component. So we’re in need of updating that technology. If we could do it without the trascription we would, but we do about 1 million lines of transcription per quarter and about 4.2 million lines of transcription annually, and this is the tool that is used to manage that.”

The Nuance hosted eScription will provide support, transcriptionist training and transition from an in-house to a hosted solution, at a cost of $234,163.50.

“This is voice recognition on the front end, and on the back end the transcriptionists edit it,” Smart said. “Voice recognition in itself is not perfect.”

With the electronic health record, physicians are inputting some components manually, but they dictate other items like discharge summaries, consults and such because it is more efficient to dictate than to try to type those items out manually.

Another area where input has been done manually is in the current fetal monitor system in the women’s health unit, which was installed during renovations in 2003. The system only has surveillance capabilities and no longer meets the needs of the hospital as far as electronic technology, and all of the paper strips from the monitor system have to be scanned into an electronic health record manually. The replacement of this system is part of a larger monitoring system project currently under way at the hospital, and the auxiliary has committed $250,000 to help fund the new fetal monitor system project. The total cost of the new system is $264,599.

The new monitors will eliminate the need to manually copy and archive all fetal monitor strips, therefore improving the electronic health record, and allowing nursing staff to be able to spend more time bedside coaching and supporting labor patients because less time will be spent manually entering fetal surveillance and nursing intervention data into a record.

Nicole Grulke can be reached via email at or by phone at 358-5687. Follow Nicole on Twitter @ng_alpenanews.