Exclusive: Entrepreneur Hau combines digital ink and wireless technology to speed data capture

The founder of a pioneering handheld computing software company has started another company, this time harnessing the concept of digital ink to create a high-tech, wireless version of the physician encounter form and other paper-based healthcare documents.

Stephen S. Hau, who founded PatientKeeper in the mid-1990s, this week is launching Shareable Ink, a firm that uses a digital pen on laser-printed plain paper--no more expensive, electrostatic sheets--to capture handwriting on encounter forms, patient history sheets and other handwritten information. It converts the handwriting to computable text in real-time via a Bluetooth connection to a nearby mobile phone, which then transmits the data to a Shareable Ink server in the Boston area. Then the electronic document is viewable on the a secure Internet page within seconds. Data can be imported into practice management and EMR systems.

Unlike with other information and charge-capture applications, clinicians don't have to change their workflow. "My training time is about a minute," Hau told FierceMobileHealthcare during a demonstration last week.

The software converts handwriting to text, following a list of pre-defined, practice-specific terminology. Whenever the computer has less than 95 percent confidence in the accuracy of the handwriting recognition, the field is highlighted in yellow for the user to fix. The system gradually becomes more accurate over time as users train it.

An anesthesia practice that tested Shareable Ink--known as CareScribe in the pre-launch phase--saved vast amounts of time with the product over its previous process. The practice had to collect encounter forms, send them to a processing center in Michigan, where the sheets were scanned, then emailed to India for data entry. That process could take as long as three weeks if the practice was slow in sending the pages to its contractor, Hau said.