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Protecting patients from medication errors requires more than single-platform EMRs

Electronic medical records (EMRs) can play an important role in the reduction of medication errors, but they should not be considered the be-all, end-all solution. Healthcare organizations, in fact, are discovering that simply implementing single-platform EMR systems is not enough to truly protect patients from the medication errors that cost the U.S. healthcare system close to $20 billion annually.1

In fact, 25% of the 250 healthcare professionals who recently participated in a HIMSS Media survey agreed that expecting the EMR to address the medication management process can be a significant barrier to medication management success, while another 52% said this expectation could act as a moderate barrier.2

To have a greater impact on patient safety, hospitals and health systems should consider supporting connected medication management initiatives that integrate information from a variety of systems and devices to provide more comprehensive information to clinicians. To accomplish this, healthcare leaders need to ensure that EMRs are utilized as part of a connected medication management system that links a variety of systems and devices including computerized physician order entry (CPOE), pharmacy, barcode medication administration (BCMA), automated medication dispensing, inventory management, and electronic medication-administration applications. Such connectivity can provide clinicians with a comprehensive view of the patient’s medication profile and can help close some of the gaps that exist when various technologies are used in isolation.

As a result, “clinicians have vital information and safety checks available to them and are much more comfortable administering medications, as they are less likely to commit an error,” said Philip Bradley, who currently serves as regional director of the Americas, HIMSS Analytics, and  formerly worked in IT leadership positions at healthcare provider organizations.

The value associated with having access to integrated information comes to light when considering the risk commonly associated with intravenous (IV) infusion pumps, which rapidly introduce drugs into a patient’s bloodstream. An estimated 56% of medication errors are IV-related, and 61% of these errors are life-threatening.3 Manually programming order parameters into the infusion pump can open up the possibility for programming errors. By connecting the infusion pump with the EMR, you can enable bidirectional data flow, sending the order parameters directly to the pump to increase medication safety, while also ensuring timely and accurate documentation. This integration is crucial to a connected medication management system.

“It isn’t economical to have a nurse standing there collecting data every 10 minutes on five reference values,” Bradley concluded. “However, integrated devices can do that and then provide the data that helps physicians and other caregivers make more informed decisions. That’s extremely important when working with high-risk medications.”

To fully optimize the EMR as a patient safety tool, healthcare leaders need to strive to connect these solutions with other technologies as part of a connected medication management system. This connectivity is designed to improve the efficiency and safety of medication management processes while also generating robust analytics and alerts to help drive decisions about medication management and patient care.

References

  1. Andel, C. et. al. The economics of health care quality and medical errors. Journal of Health Care Finance, 2012 Fall; 39(1):39-50. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23155743
  2. HIMSS Media. Transforming medication management: Insights on connected medication management. December 2019.
  3.  Prusch, A., Suess, T., Paoletti, R., Olin, S. et al. Integrating technology to improve medication administration. Am J Health-Syst Pharm, May 2011, 68(9):835–842

The need for connectivity which improves the efficiency and safety of medication management processes while also generating robust analytics extends across various health care settings, including the pharmacy. On June 16, attend a two-part virtual event hosted by BD where Visante C-suite will reveal how pharmacy programs can help to achieve organizational goals, and an experienced pharmacy panel will discuss how quality pharmacy analytics correlate to high performing pharmacy programs. Learn more and register now.

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