Siemens West Coast User Group Meeting

I spent all day Thursday at San Francisco General Hospital (SF General) attending the annual Siemens West Coast User Group Meeting. The meetings are generally low key with a couple of formal presentations from Siemens customers located on the west coast, updates on upcoming releases of Siemens Pharmacy and BCMA system (MAK) and of course lots of discussion on hot topics.

For my part I re-presented the same slide deck that I used at Siemens Innovations only a few weeks ago. It wasn’t exactly the same, but pretty close. I did manage to make some minor changes. I also think it was a little smoother the second time around. Anyway, the other presentation was delivered by a Psych pharmacist at SF General. Apparently SF General has been experimenting with a Nursing-Pharmacist shadowing program. It’s an interesting concept. Following a survey assessing the perceived roles of nurses and pharmacists, and how well the two disciplines communicate, it was determined that there was a basic lack of understanding between the two professions. Really? Go figure. Based on that information SF General decided to enact a program where nurses spend time shadowing pharmacists and vice-versa. According to the presenter, the initial beta test went well and they are planning to go house wide with the program in January 2011.

Nursing and pharmacy have been at odds with each other since the beginning of time. Both groups operate in stressful environments where minutes seem to last forever. Pharmacists complain about nurses and nurses complain about pharmacists. It’s nothing new. The relationship between the two groups can be tenuous during good times, and downright vicious during times of high stress. The program at SF General sounds like a great way to gain a little understanding between the two disciplines. I applaud their effort and hope it works well. I’m looking forward to seeing the results of their experiment. Hopefully they will share the information with the rest of us.

Following the presentations a representative from Siemens gave the group an update on upcoming product releases for Pharmacy and MAK. The information was the same as that presented at Innovations, but no less interesting. I’m looking forward to implementing the newest releases of both systems as they offers functionality that I’ve been waiting for.

The hot topics segment of the user group meeting is always good as it raises some interesting items for discussion. Some of the topics are more controversial than others, but the discussion is always beneficial to those that chose to participate. It’s nice to know that you’re not the only one in the universe with a problem.

Overall I think the user group meeting was a success. I picked up a few little tidbits and did a little networking that may come in handy as I’m “working the spreadsheet”. *smile*

Update: Siemens Innovations 2010 parting thoughts

Innovations 2010 is in the books and I’m back home after a four day stent in Orlando. It’s not uncommon for me to get a little overwhelmed at a conference because there’s simply too much information to digest at one time. Sometimes it takes me a few days to mull over the information and decide what I’m going to do with it. After all, I can’t use everything I learned because some of it simply doesn’t apply to my situation. In addition I spent more time talking with people one-on-one this year than in years past. I feel like I get more out of people when I can direct the conversation where I want it to go.

Well, it turns out that long plane rides and airport delays are a good time to get your thoughts together, toss around some ideas and make some decisions. While I have a long list of Siemens specific items to look over when I get back to work tomorrow, I won’t bore you with those here. Instead I thought I would share some general thoughts about my Innovations 2010 experience.
Continue reading Update: Siemens Innovations 2010 parting thoughts

Update: Siemens Innovations 2010 final day

Today is my final Day at Innovations and I’ve managed to pick up quite a bit of good, useful information that has the potential to improve our operations back at the hospital. I’ve been in my current position as an IT pharmacist for about 2 1/2 years now and this is my third Innovations conference. I finally have enough experience under my belt to start putting the pieces together in a manner that allows me to gather information in a more strategic fashion, rather than just running around trying to gather enough information to put out fires.

This years Innovations conference was heavy with sessions on ARRA, meaningful use and CPOE. I’m not surprised as this is where all the money will be for vendors involved in HIT over the next several years.

Anyway, I feel there are a couple of presentations I attended yesterday that are worth mentioning.
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Update: Siemens Innovations 2010 – Day 1

Today was the first real working day at Innovations. Yesterday was taken up by all the registration stuff that you have to do when you arrive at a conference, and the welcome reception. Most of the morning was fairly benign as a good chunk of it was taken up by the opening session. I’m not a big fan of opening sessions as they tend to all sound the same. However, I did manage to squeeze in a couple of good sessions in addition to spending some time at the expo. I general love roaming the expo, but this year’s vendor selection is quite small and not really that interesting. It only took me about an hour to run through all the booths and collect a little reading material for later.

One unplanned event that I have to mention was the pleasure of eating breakfast next to Johnathan Paul, a senior engineer in enterprise R & D at Siemens. He casually sat down next to me this morning and asked me what sessions I was planning on attending. I promptly gave him my spiel about attending the various pharmacy sessions, but in addition I lamented the fact that I was going to miss the presentation on “Virtualization, Cloud Computing, SOA, Elasticity, De-Duplication…What Do These Technical Terms Really Mean and How Do We Apply Them?” because it was at the same time as the pharmacy update. I didn’t know at the time, but he was the presenter for that session. After I got past my initial embarrassment we had a great conversation about many of the topics he planned to cover. I came away with some great information and knowledge that Siemens is doing things behind the scenes that makes me downright giddy.
Continue reading Update: Siemens Innovations 2010 – Day 1

Siemens Innovations ’09 – The End

Siemens Innovations has officially come to an end. My time in Philadelphia was good, but I will be happy to get home to the “dry heat”. The information I picked up was very valuable and I made some great contacts. I’m excited to get back to work and see what damage I can cause with my newly acquired knowledge.

As I wrap up my time here at Innovations ’09 a few thoughts come to mind:
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Siemens Innovations ’09 – update, part deux

I spent the day attending the following educational sessions:

Where did My Mumps Job Scheduler (MJS) Go? – This was a pretty basic “how-to” session covering the new job scheduler, Cache, used in the latest version of the pharmacy system. Boring, but helpful.

Integrating Siemens Pharmacy to Maximize the Pharmacist Role – This was the most interesting presentation of the day, by far. Yakima Valley Memorial hospital is located in Yakima, Washington. Their pharmacy department is clinically solid and technologically advanced. They make extensive use of various custom pharmacy system reports to monitor antibiotic therapy, follow patients with poor glycemic control, and follow-up on patients with questionable orders. In addition, Yakima is in the process of writing advanced rules against their pharmacy system to track patients receiving warfarin therapy with no INR within the previous 24 hours. The warfarin monitoring is necessary to meet National Patient Safety Goal 3E. Much of the information is practical and can be reproduced at my facility.

Hitting the Mark with MAK! – Everyone wants to learn more about MAK, Siemens BCMA solution, and there have been presentations on just about every aspect of the system. This was no exception as the entire presentation was on how to develop a project plan for MAK implementation. This one nearly put me to sleep.

Leveraging MAK/MAR Integration to Achieve Increased Operational Efficiency – Centra State Healthcare System has done some pretty amazing things with their MAK data and the electronic medication administration record (MAR) found in Soarian. Soarian is Siemens system for collecting and displaying clinical information such as labs, allergies, patient assessments, physician notes, etc. Centra managed to create an integrated solution that offers physicians a one-stop-shop for clinical information as well as previous, current, and future medication administration. I was impressed. It appears I have a little reading to do when I get home.

I spent most of the afternoon talking with other pharmacists about computerized provider order entry (CPOE) and pharmacy automation. One pharmacist from CaroMont Health in Gastonia, NC was particularly interesting as his facility uses almost the exact same setup as ours; Siemens Pharmacy, Pyxis, and Talyst automation. He and I shared quite a bit of information. The time spent talking with other pharmacists was very valuable, possibley more valuable than all the presentations combined. 

Tomorrow is the final day of Innovations ’09 with more of the same on my agenda. Sessions on my radar for tomorrow include: Extending Patient Safety with MAK Beyond the Acute Inpatient Setting, Building the Bridge between MAK and Soarian, and Raising the Bar for Patient Safety. After that, it will be time to pack up and head for the airport; until then.

Siemens Innovations ’09 – update

I just finished my last session of the day here in Philadelphia, and overall I would have to say it was a productive one.

My first session today was an update on various future enhancements to both the Siemens Pharmacy System and their barcode medication administration system (BCMA), fondly referred to as MAK. The future enhancements bring much needed functionality to a system that, in my opinion, wasn’t ready for prime time.
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Siemens Innovations ’09 – Opening Session

This mornings opening session for Siemens Innovations ’09 was delivered by Janet Dillione, CEO of Health Services Siemens Healthcare. Not surprisingly, the opening speech was focused on the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) and healthcare reform. Healthcare information technology took center stage from about an hour.

Some items of interest to me were:

  • Based on the presentation slides, it appears that Siemens is betting on CPOE being the gate through which all hospitals will have to travel to qualify for “meaningful use” healthcare dollars. However, Dillione does not necessarily believe that most hospitals will be able to accomplish CPOE implementation by the end of 2011. This statement is particularly interesting when you consider that Siemens has a unique insight into their customer base, and would love nothing more than to install CPOE in hundreds of healthcare systems across the United States. It makes me wonder how hospitals will choose to handle CPOE over the next 18 months.
  • Soarian will be the focus of Siemens implementations over the next year as they build the foundation for CPOE with better clinical functionality and documentation. Dhillone spent a lot of time hyping the speed and stability of the most recent Soarian release.
  • Doing more with less was a common theme throughout the opening remarks. Focus was placed on hospitals doing a better job of managing patients with chronic healthcare conditions like diabetes, asthma, and heart failure by making better use of “clinical people”, specifically physicians and nurses. That’s right, pharmacists were never mentioned.
  • Not one time did Dillione mention pharmacists or advancing their line of pharmacy based products. I found this a little disappointing as pharmacists have been shown to be cost effective when used appropriately. In addition the Siemens Pharmacy system is tied into many other Siemens products, including CPOE, BCMA, admitting, financials, and lab.
  • “Integration” is out and “Interoperability” is in. Time was spent discussing the need to make Siemens products interoperable. I think we need to develop some standards for much of the software available in healthcare before claiming interoperability. As far as I’m concerned all Siemens products should be plug-and-play out of the box when utilized with other Siemens products. The problem exists when a third party vendor needs to tie into your primary system (i.e. Siemens Pharmacy, Siemens MAK, Siemens Soarian, etc.). To the best of my knowledge basic guidelines may exist, but there is certainly no standard. Did I hear someone say “cloud”? Well, I certainly think that’s an approach we should be investigating. It’s difficult to ignore interoperability when all the information is centrally located and all you have to do is create access to it.
  • Sessions I’m attending today include: Siemens Pharmacy/Med Administration Check Solutions Update, A Detailed Approach to Workflow Data Collection and MAK Design, and Barcoded Medication Administration: Is It a Luxury or Standard of Care?.

    More to follow…..

    Siemens to provide healthcare IT software to hospitals and clinics in South Africa

    Healthcare IT Consultant Blog: “The implementation of the Siemens hospital information system is a significant part of the Gauteng DoH’s overall objective to create a single electronic health record for patients across the province and to eliminate paper-based workflow. The core of the solution is Soarian MedSuite, an integrated hospital information system which proactively manages the clinical, financial and administrative process from beginning to end. As a result, hospitals and clinics are able to increase efficiency, productivity and quality of care across the healthcare enterprise.” – Wow, the hospitals and clinics in South Africa better be prepared for the wonders of Siemens “healthcare IT software”. I’ve had a little experience with it and wouldn’t exactly be thrilled with the idea. I suppose it’s better than a napkin and pencil….maybe.

    Making PCOs easier to use in the Siemens Pharmacy System.

    Siemens utilizes an unfortunately complicated system for building reusable order sets in their pharmacy system. Unlike Meditech where you can use formulary medications, enter them the way they appear on the order set, give the newly created order set a name and save it; Siemens Pharmacy requires that you first construct a series of “Predefined Common Orders” (PCOs) and use those as building blocks for each order set. PCOs are not only used as building blocks for order sets, but can be used to create shortcuts for medication order entry as well. Each PCO must have a unique name and be specific to the order set from which is hails. Reusing PCOs in multiple order sets creates maintenance issues when one order set makes a revision and the other does not.
    Continue reading Making PCOs easier to use in the Siemens Pharmacy System.