Do patients in the U.S. really own their healthcare data?

Yesterday I was reading through my Twitter stream when I came across a brief exchange between Eric Topol (@EricTopol)  and Farzad Mostashari (@Farzad_MD). Both are big names in the digital healthcare space.


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Saturday morning coffee [April 11 2015]

“This above all: to thine own self be true.” - William Shakespeare

So much happens each and every week, and 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 mug below comes straight from the bookstore on the UC San Diego campus. My youngest daughter, Mikaela and I attended Triton Day 2015 last Saturday on the UCSD campus. Mikaela will be attending UCSD starting in the Fall of this year as a NanoEngineering major. After sitting through the Chemical Engineering and NanoEngineering presentations at Triton Day I’m thinking about joining her. It’s a great time to be entering the nanotechnology field.

UCSD Triton Mug
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Cool Pharmacy Technology – Kiro Oncology System

I’ve recently had conversations with several companies outside the U.S. developing robotic technology for the i.v. room. One of those systems is the Kiro Oncology System. Check the video below.

A couple of things worth noting:

  • The system uses dual robotic arms during the compounding process. This is something that is important for the next generation of i.v. room robots. The current crop of i.v. room robots here in the U.S. use a single arm. Think about the inefficiency of one-armed sterile compounding.
  • The Kiro Oncology System is self-cleaning. This is a concept that appears to be more popular “in Europe” than it is here in the U.S. Kiro Oncology isn’t the first overseas group I’ve dealt with that is pushing the idea of self-cleaning. None of the U.S. vendors have ever mentioned it.

Managing medication trays in acute care pharmacy

Medication trays – a.k.a. med trays, code trays/kits/boxes/bags, transport trays/kits/boxes/bags, intubation kits, C-section trays, anesthesia trays, and so on ad infinitum – are common in acute care pharmacies.  I’ve seen them in every variation you can imagine in every pharmacy I’ve ever been in.

Depending on the situation, med trays can contain a large number of injectable medications. For example: code trays may contain several different neuromuscular blockers like vecuronium, rocuronium, succinylcholine; pressors like epinephrine, norepinephrine, phenylephrine;  other code drugs like atropine, vasopressin; reversal agents like naloxone and neostigmine; antibiotics, etc, while a C-section tray may contain local anesthetics in various shapes and sizes (lidocaine with or without EPI, SDV or MDV, bupivacaine of various concentrations, etc). The list goes on. It’s pretty crazy.

Anesthesia_Tray
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Automated intravenous fluid monitoring at the bedside

Over the years I’ve had a lot of ideas, some good and some not. When an idea comes to me I typically record it in a notebook that I have sitting on my desk. Occasionally I return to the notebook and review the ideas to see how many of the ideas still have merit. Sometimes an idea has become outdated, and rarely an idea will have materialized as a product of similar design built by a company. And then there’s a group of ideas and concepts that still hold value, but haven’t been seen in the market.

Today I was rummaging through some of my old ideas. One of them from 2010 caught my attention. In 2010 I thought it would be cool if someone could use technology to analyze the IV fluid being administered to a patient in real-time. Basically such a system would prevent the wrong IV medication from being hung on a patient, thus preventing a medication error.
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Cleanroom technology for pharmacy – DRUGCAM

DRUGCAM is an interesting piece of pharmacy cleanroom technology. On one hand it falls into the semi-automated systems category because the person using it has to manually manipulate all the components of the sterile compound they’re making. In other words, it’s not a robot. On the other hand DRUGCAM uses some interesting technology and software to automate some of the steps in the process.

DRUGCAM uses multiple cameras(1) to automatically detect the items being used during the compounding process. As the user passes components in front of the cameras, the system automatically identifies them. No bar code scanning required. That’s probably a good thing outside the U.S. as I’ve learned that not all countries require manufacturers to place a bar code on their drug containers. If the system doesn’t recognize the item, the user is notified via visual cues on the screen.

DRUGCAM uses the same technology to automatically detect the volume of fluid pulled into syringes, and also detect when the same syringe is empty following addition of the contents to the final container. I’m not sure how the system determines the correct syringe position, but it’s pretty interesting.

One other thing that makes DRUGCAM unique is that it takes video of the entire compounding process. I’ve mentioned this idea to several vendors over the past few years, but no one really seemed interested in the idea of using video.(2) I think it offers potential advantages over still photos. For one, if something looks weird you can always move forward or back in the compounding process to see what went wrong.

Check the video below. It shows DRUGCAM being used in a glovebox.

DRUGCAM is not currently available in the U.S. If you’d like more information just follow the link to the DRUGCAM website.

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(1) When I saw DRUGCAM at the ASHP Summer Meeting back in June 2013 the engineer told me that the system utilized two cameras, but I can’t find that information on the product website.
(2) Everyone I’ve talk with was concerned about the storage requirements for the video. My brother works for a company that designs security cameras, software, etc. Those companies have been dealing with high-definition video storage for years.

Saturday morning coffee [March 21 2015]

“Life is a dream for the wise, a game for the fool, a comedy for the rich, a tragedy for the poor.” – Sholom Aleichem

So much happens each and every week, and 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….

I was sitting in The Main Street Café in Visalia, CA having breakfast with my brother when I saw the sign below hanging on the wall. Perk ‘Em Up….would make a great name for a coffee shop, no? Just in case you were wondering, the staff was great, but the food was mediocre. The pancakes weren’t very good at all. No flavor. Bacon was good though.

MUG_CoffeeShop
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Drug shortages, whose to blame?

Medscape: “One cause of these shortages, pharmaceutical companies charge, is the amount of time it takes the DEA to approve controlled substance quotas. The DEA has created these quotas for each class of controlled substances and for each manufacturer of drugs containing these agents to prevent their diversion to illegal uses.”

The drug shortage problem is nothing new. It has become an everyday reality of pharmacy practice. ASHP has established a dedicated website for the problem, and the FDA has gone as far as to create a mobile app to help people track shortage information.

For most people the idea of a drug shortage seems silly, i.e. just make more. The problem is more complicated than that, however. The causes of drug shortages are multifaceted.
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Saturday morning coffee [March 14 2015]

“There is nothing in which people more betray their character than in what they laugh at.” - Goethe

So much happens each and every week, and 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 mug below comes straight from Voodoo Doughnuts in Portland, OR. My wife and youngest daughter were up North last week visiting colleges. They surprised me upon their return with a box of Voodoo Doughnuts and this mug. The doughnuts were delicious.

MUG_VoodooDoughnuts
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Applications to assist with Antimicrobial Stewardship

A couple of days ago I wrote about The California Antimicrobial Stewardship Program Initiative, and how it’s an opportunity for pharmacists to get out and stretch their clinical legs.

Antimicrobial stewardship requires a lot of real-time surveillance and monitoring of patients, labs and cultures, medication use, and so on. There are basically two ways to accomplish this. One is tedious and inefficient, while the other is smart and efficient.

The tedious, inefficient method is the one used by many healthcare facilities. Pharmacies in these facilities simply throw pharmacists at the problem by having them look at a bunch of patients manually every day in search of anomalies. It’s very time consuming. It’s like looking for a crooked needle in a needle stack.

The smart, efficient method involves the use of clinical decision support systems. These systems are connected to several data feeds from other systems throughout the hospital, such as ADT, pharmacy, lab, and so on. The data is aggregated and analyzed against a set of rules designed to find patients with potential problems. These patients are tagged and referred to a pharmacist for follow up, i.e. the pharmacists are only presented with the crooked needles. It’s a much better way to go about things.

There are several systems on the market designed to perform real-time surveillance and clinical decision support. The list below includes many, but is certainly not exhaustive.