I used a telemedicine service for the first time and loved it

My daughter woke the other morning with the following complaints:

  • itchy eye
  • watery eye
  • “feels like there’s sand in my eye”
  • and from my observation, redness in the “white” of her eye

Hmm, I’ve seen this before. My initial thought was conjunctivitis, a.k.a. “Pink eye”.  I called our family pediatrician looking for something to hold us over the weekend until we could be seen on Monday. Basically I was saying it looks like Pink eye, so let’s  treat it like Pink eye for the rest of the weekend and I’ll follow up with you on Monday. Unfortunately I got the nurse practitioner on call. She wasn’t very cooperative. She wanted me to take my daughter to the urgent care to rule out periorbital cellulitis. Really? You jump from itchy, red eye with a slight watery discharge to periorbital cellulitis? I thought that was rather ridiculous, so I ignored her and hung up the phone.

Sounded like a good time to try a telemedicine service. My insurance company, Anthem Blue Cross, offers a a service called LiveHealth Online. I followed the link provided by my insurance company, downloaded the app, and by 7:30 am on Sunday morning my daughter and I were sitting on the couch in our living room speaking with a Family Practice physician about her eye.

I let my daughter do all the talking. I was simply there to make sure things went smoothly. The physician asked several questions about how my daughter was feeling, about her eye, who she’d been in contact with, and what she had been doing over the past several days. The physician had my daughter hold her eye up to the front facing camera on her Galaxy S5 from several different angles to better view of the eye. Conclusion? Conjunctivitis, probably viral. The physician decided to treat with some anti-bacterial eye drops “just in case”. A prescription was electronically sent to our pharmacy and that was it. From beginning to end the entire visit took less than 15 minutes.

It’s been about 36 hours since we started treatment and her eye has improved significantly. Overall I have to say that my first experience with telemedicine was fantastic. A trip to the urgent care would have taken several hours and been quite inconvenient. I have to say, I believe now more than ever that telemedicine has a place in healthcare, especially for things like this.

Periorbital cellulitis my rear.

Saturday morning coffee [September 13 2014]

“The illiterate of the 21st Century will not be those who cannot read or write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.” -Toffler

So much happens each and every week that it’s hard to keep up sometimes. Here are some of the tabs that are open in my browser this morning along with some random thoughts….

MUG_SMC
Read more …

Kit Check passes 100 customer mark

Kitcheck.com: “Kit Check™ … today announced that over 100 hospitals are using its cloud-based software solution. The first customer site was installed at the University of Maryland Medical Center in April 2012 and the user base has grown quickly, including more than 50 sites added since January 2014.” – Pretty interesting numbers coming from Kit Check once you get past the marketing jargon. Yeah, I’m calling shenanigans on this statement in the press release: “Kit Check Vice President of Sales Doug Zurawski, Pharm.D., commented, …  “Kit Check already represents the fastest adoption rate in history for hospital pharmacy software and our growth continues to accelerate.” Fastest adoption rate for hospital pharmacy software in history? I’d like to see the fact checking for that statement. I’m going to reserve the right to take that statement with a healthy dose of skepticism. Still, having 100 customers using RFID technology to manage medication trays is pretty impressive.

If you’re more than just a casual reader of this blog then you know that I support RFID technology and believe that it has a niche in pharmacy practice. And one of those niches is medication tray management.

I first mentioned Kit Check back in January 2012. Back then Kit Check was really the only game in town, but times have changed. Not by much, but they’ve changed. Today Kit Check is directly challenged by Intelliguard by MEPS Real-Time, Inc, and to a lesser extent MedKeeper. Each has their potential pros and cons.

Does this mean that RFID is poised to take off in pharmacy practice? Hardly, but it does mean that people are beginning to see the potential benefits of using this type of technology. As long as the companies in this space continue to improve usability I can see potential uptake in the near future.

Saturday morning coffee [August 23 2014]

“Talent is God-given. Be humble. Fame is man-given. Be grateful. Conceit is self-given. Be careful.” -John Wooden”

So much happens each and every week that it’s hard to keep up sometimes. Here are some of the tabs that are open in my browser this morning along with some random thoughts….

MUG_SMC
Read more …

Cool Technology for Healthcare – GPS SmartSole

Yep, you read the right, GPS-enabled insoles for your shoes. Very interesting concept when you stop to consider the potential benefits of such technology in healthcare, i.e. think Alzheimer’s for one, although the use cases are expansive.

Up until a couple of weeks ago I had never heard of the GPS SmartSole, but apparently they’ve been around for a while. According to the company website – GTX Corp – the product has been around since 2008. Who knew?

The technology gives users the ability to track individual’s location via any smartphone, tablet, or other web-enabled device. Caregivers can even configure the system to send text and email alerts when the user leaves a designated area. Of course it only works if the user is wearing their shoes.

Read more …

The benefits of an EHR may or may not be real

I’ve had reason to think about Electronic Health Records (EHRs) these past few weeks. There is a lot riding on their success or failure. There’s no question that EHRs will be the future of all documentation in healthcare, but I’m not convinced that healthcare is ready for the transition. At least not yet.

The potential advantages of EHRs are many. In theory they offer real-time information, integration of many systems across a single platform, the ability to store, access and manipulate massive amounts of data (“business intelligence”, analytics, “big data”, etc), they provide information that follows a patient regardless of where they go or who they see, the offer potential for patients to view, edit, use, and add to their own medical information, and so on.

These are all good things. If only the potential was reality. The current state of EHRs is far from their future potential.
Read more …

On demand controlled substances dispensing at the point of care (NarcoMedic®)

NarcoMedic is a product from Pearson Medical Technologies. Pearson is a small company out of Alexandria, LA. They’ve made a business out of bar code labeling and packaging technologies. You’re probably most familiar with their iPackRx unit dose packager and m:Print software; either as the direct product or possibly as an OEM’d version for another company.

A colleague sent me a marketing email a few days ago from Pearson announcing NarcoMedic, a “decentralized management platform” for controlled substances. It caught my attention as I thought about something like this several years ago.

As with other automated dispensing units, NarcoMedic is designed to dispense medications at the point of care, i.e. nursing unit. With that said, what caught my attention were the following points:

  • Tabletop design – 38”H x 23”L x 32”D. Med rooms tend to be cramped. It’s nice to have the option for a small unit.
  • Packages and dispenses in individual patient-specific bar coded packages (packages on demand from storage locations)
  • Packages and dispenses tablets, vials, ampules and syringes in individual packages.

Pretty interesting. As I said, it’s not a new concept, but perhaps it’s time has come. Regardless, it’s nice to see someone out there trying something new.

Read more …

Saturday morning coffee [August 9 2014]

“If you think a weakness can be turned into a strength, I hate to tell you this, but that’s another weakness.” -Jack Handey

So much happens each and every week that it’s hard to keep up sometimes. Here are some of the tabs that are open in my browser this morning along with some random thoughts….

The coffee mug below is relatively new. It’s one of two that I picked up in Las Vegas at M&M World during one of my daughter’s volleyball tournaments earlier this year.

Orange M&M's Coffee Mug
Read more …

Keeping up with the Joneses, or how pharmacies choose technology

Recently a colleague sent me a link to the FierceHealthIT article below. Much of what the article had to say rang true for me.

Hospitals covet neighboring facilities’ technology: “Facilities were more likely to acquire a new surgical robot if neighboring hospitals had done so, according to a study from a group of private and government researchers published in this month’s Healthcare journal… The authors found that a hospital whose neighbor had acquired a surgical robot was more likely to also get one….According to the authors, the results suggest that tech adoption may be driven “in part by competition among neighboring hospitals rather than solely by the mission to provide optimal patient care.”

This is consistent with what I’ve witnessed in pharmacy technology over the past several years. In my experience pharmacies rarely choose the technology that’s right for them. It’s much more likely that pharmacies will make decisions based on usage patterns of other local hospitals, i.e. word of mouth. That’s why it’s so important for companies in the pharmacy technology sector to get people using their products. It’s not like the consumer market where new technology can often unseat an incumbent with a whiz-bang feature or some clever marketing. No, in pharmacy it’s likely that once a decision is made that decision will stick for many years.

It’s also important for pharmacies to ensure that they’re making a wise decision when it comes to implementing new technology. They should ask themselves two questions: 1) what do I need it to do, and 2) will it fit my workflow. Answer those two questions and you’ll know if it’s right for you.