Health IT

Prescription assessment tool to reduce medical errors gets scooped up

The process of assessing patients’ prescriptions at arrival, transfer points and departure from a healthcare facility to ensure that nothing is missing or duplicated is a critical component of meaningful use. As hospitals go through the process of shifting what has traditionally been a paper-based process into an electronic one, they may still find that […]

The process of assessing patients’ prescriptions at arrival, transfer points and departure from a healthcare facility to ensure that nothing is missing or duplicated is a critical component of meaningful use. As hospitals go through the process of shifting what has traditionally been a paper-based process into an electronic one, they may still find that it’s a potential minefield for errors.

Why? It involves integrating pharmacist, nurse and physician work flows and relying to some extent on patients and their families to recall and understand the medication that needs to be included. The companies and health systems that find a way to get it right or at least significantly improve are getting attention.

Seattle, Washington-based Design Clinicals‘ medication reconciliation program led to its acquisition by First Databank, which provides clinical drug knowledge that helps improve medication-related decisions and patient outcomes. The plan is for the two companies to combine their systems.

Design Clinicals’ MedsTracker solution is a medication reconciliation software solution that integrates healthcare facilities’ computerized physician order entry systems with pharmacies and electronic medication administration record systems. It’s currently used at 40 U.S. hospitals.

In an interview with HIStalk in 2011, Design Clinicals’ CEO Dr. Dewey Howell described the medication reconciliation challenge hospitals face.

“We are primarily still seeing folks doing this on paper. That’s because so many of the vendor systems still haven’t provided electronic solutions and work flow that is manageable in the context of the other systems.

“I think the real problem is that we consider med rec a very broad piece that touches nurses, pharmacists and doctors. In many hospital systems, those functions are very different applications. To really make it work, you need a process that touches all of those users. That’s hard to do in the silo design of a lot of those systems.”

MedsTracker has modular certification for Stage 1 meaningful use for both ambulatory and inpatient practice for medication reconciliation and decision support. It’s also in the process of securing modular certification for Stage 2, according to the statement.

Bob Katter, the executive vice president for First Databank in San Francisco said an optimal electronic medication reconciliation solution needs to include “intuitive drug knowledge and seamlessly integrate with” health IT vendors, according to a company statement.

From what Howell said in the company statement, the deal looks like it was always a potential long-term goal. “When we first founded Design Clinicals, we partnered with FDB and built our entire platform around their drug knowledge and decision-support tools.”

Einstein Medical Center made changes in its medication reconciliation program that helped cut readmissions by 50 percent as part of its REACH program.

In the seven years to January 2011, there were about 900 medication errors reported involving patients taking their own medications while in healthcare facilities, according to a report by the ECRI Institute for the Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority.