So IBW’s Watson recently competed and won ‘Jeopardy!”. Well, ‘Jeopardy!’ is a lot harder than verifying many medication orders routinely seen by pharmacists in the acute care setting.
According to a recent article at Network World: “Watson’s ability to analyze the meaning and context of human language, and quickly process information to find precise answers, can assist decision makers such as physicians and nurses, unlock important knowledge and facts buried within huge volumes of information, and offer answers they may not have considered to help validate their own ideas or hypotheses, IBM stated.
From IBM: “… a doctor considering a patient’s diagnosis could use Watson’s analytics technology, in conjunction with Nuance’s voice and clinical language understanding solutions, to rapidly consider all the related texts, reference materials, prior cases, and latest knowledge in journals and medical literature to gain evidence from many more potential sources than previously possible. This could help medical professionals confidently determine the most likely diagnosis and treatment options.””
Perhaps pharmacy could take advantage of the Watson technology to help pharmacists move away from nearly universal prospective order review (NUPOR), i.e pharmacists stuck at a computer terminal looking at every order written. There has been a movement in recent years to eliminate the need for NUPOR and move toward a system that allows drug orders with “imperceptible harm” to be automatically verified and activated for use on a patient. Some think it’s a crazy idea, but it makes sense to me. There are several medication orders that come to mind that would fall into an auto-verification category.
Just imagine the additional time a pharmacist would have to spend on clinical activities with the elimination of NUPOR. And we all know what additional clinical time means; yeah, saved healthcare dollars and improved patient safety. In addition, the idea of moving the pharmacist away from the pharmacy and toward the patient bedside is in line with recent goals set forth by AHSP in their PPMI. Let’s all hope that Watson lives up to expectations. I, for one, would welcome him as an honorary pharmacist.
For those of you interested in reading more about NUPOR and the idea of auto-verification of medication orders I’ve included some references below. Much of the information below can also be found at RxInformatics.com.
A new term for transcribing
Am J Health Syst Pharm 2008 65: 1801-1802
Flynn, Allen J.
Opportunity cost of pharmacists’ nearly universal prospective order review
Am J Health Syst Pharm 2009 66: 668-670
An informatics perspective on nearly universal prospective order review
Am J Health Syst Pharm 2009 66: 704-705
Tribble, Dennis A.
Automating order review is delegation, not abdication
Am J Health Syst Pharm 2009 66: 1078-1079
Pierpaoli, Paul G.
Creatively using our intellectual capital
Am J Health Syst Pharm 2009 66: 1087
Should the ‘Sacred Cow’ of Near Universal Drug Order Review be Gored?
Pharmacy Practice News 2009 36:04 (requires free registration to access article)