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Capturing images for patient records

Dr Neil Paul reviews a consulting room camera that links directly into the practice's clinical software.

One reason I started writing about IT was that I have always been jealous of IT journalists who get to try out new stuff before it hits the market because of their industry contacts. Unfortunately Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple has not yet rung me to test the rumoured Mac Touch ('tablet' computer). However Numed Healthcare did get in touch to ask me to try out its new webcam-style camera.

Numed Image Capture is designed to make the process of taking photographs of patients' rashes, skin lesions, moles and so forth, and storing them in the practice's clinical system, smooth and seamless.

Of course, you can currently take a photo with a camera, print it and scan it in.

Or you can go through the rigmarole of uploading it to the computer, editing it if need be and attaching it to the correct patient record.

This laborious chore is not something GPs want to do during a consultation but the aim with this product is to make using the camera a normal part of seeing patients.

Numed Image capture camera

Image capture
The Image Capture system has been developed to be compatible with EMIS, INPS and TPP SystmOne, and is basically the same on each platform. I looked at the EMIS version.

The device is an USB-powered camera with built-in illumination that can be turned on if needed. It comes on a desktop stand and can easily be manoeuvred into different positions. It has fixed focal length with autofocus and will focus from infinity to about 10cm. A whole body shot is possible or just one of a mole.

The software grabs the active patient details from the clinical system and presents you with a video view in the main window. When you have got the lighting and positioning right (check this by watching the appropriate window on screen), you press the go button. The pictures are displayed so you can choose the best one.

Easy to use
A window then pops up that allows you to choose a diagram of any part of the body and annotate it with a marker to show the location of the photo. You can also add comments. Then click 'OK' and the picture is saved.

I found Image Capture easy to use. The attached image is split into three: the photo, the diagram of where it is and the comments section. The quality is quite good but not on a par with an expensive SLR camera with ring flash. However, one of my partners, a dermatology GPSI, loved it because it was easy and fast to use and recorded general shape, colour, size and position quickly. He could leave it on his desk all the time and use it at will knowing he had a record to compare against in future.

I can envisage most GPs interested in dermatology wanting one. We tried it in the leg ulcer clinic where it was superb at allowing the nurses to monitor progress.

  • Dr Neil Paul is a GP in Sandbach, Cheshire.

Fast facts

  • Webcam style USB-powered camera with integral lighting and stand that sits on the consulting room desk. Used for photographing skin lesions and moles.
  • Average image quality is offset by ease of use and practicality.
  • Primarily useful for dermatological conditions but has a variety of uses, such as in the leg ulcer clinic.
  • Compatible with EMIS LV, PCS, INPS Vision 3 and TPP Systm One.
  • £340 from Numed Healthcare, 0114 2433896, www.numed.co.uk

Reader offer
Practices can buy the Numed Image Capture camera (right on desktop stand) for 20 per cent less than the £340 list price. To get the discount, call Numed Healthcare on 0114 2433896 and quote reference 'GP CAPTURE' when ordering.

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