New phone system relays HIPAA-compliant messages to referring community
A new risk management tool works to improve patient safety by strengthening the relationship between radiologists and referring physicians.

VoiceLink, developed by Dallas-based Vocada Inc., enables radiologists to communicate critical patient information to referring physicians through a verifiable and intelligent communications system. The phone-based system is supported by a Web application that does not require the end user to purchase any additional hardware or software.

By dialing into VoiceLink, the radiologist uses a voice-activated directory to leave a message related to the diagnosis for a referring physician. When the message is complete, the system takes over and routes the message to the referring physician. Using a communication tool such as a pager, cell phone, email or fax, the referring physician is notified of the message. To access the message, the clinician dials into a toll free number, enters a six digit code, and listens to the radiologist's diagnosis.

"The system documents and tracks this entire communication process," says Vocada CEO Peter White. "Starting with when the radiologist created the message, to when the referring physician was notified, to when they received and listened to the message. The system also knows that if the referring physician does not pick up the message in a certain amount of time, it can resend the notice and continue to do that until the message is received and processed. The entire sequence of events is archived and available for retrieval."

While the service is priced on a departmental basis, as well as based on the size of the referring physician community, White notes the price range is approximately $30,000.

Commercially available since September 2003, the technology is in place at several hospitals, including Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tenn.; the University of Pennsylvania Hospital in Philadelphia; Centinela Medical Center in Los Angeles; and Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas.