Why my Firefox browser is more advanced than our hospital’s HIS

frustration.cartoonEach day I roll into work ready for another exciting day of pharmacy technology. I’m usually bright-eyed and ready for a new challenge because I’ve spent the previous night scouring the web and reading about all the incredible technology being put into place all over the world; tablet pcs, electronic paper and ink, advanced nanoparticles, automated dispensing devices, mobile phones, advances in social networking, and so on ad infinitum. Then there are days like today when I have something land in my lap that just makes me shake my head and wonder if healthcare will ever catch up to the rest of the world.
Continue reading Why my Firefox browser is more advanced than our hospital’s HIS

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act is not without risk

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) has created quite a flutter of activity in healthcare during the past several months. I can’t remember a time when something was such a popular topic. Everywhere you look, Twitter, Facebook, personal blogs, professional blogs, and so on are talking about how to demonstrate “meaningful use” and get their hot little hands on some cash.

While the idea is sound, the implementation has something to be desired. The overwhelming attention to the definition of “meaningful use” and the looming 2011 timeline has created some unwanted side effects to the ARRA. Hospitals have started throwing project plans in reverse for significant revision or throwing them out the window and starting over all together. Projects that may have been in the pipeline for months, or years, are now taking a back seat to the ARRA requirements. Project development and timelines are involved processes that are designed to work around several variables such as capital budgets, current software and hardware specs, and available human resources.

Many healthcare systems have yet to develop a plan to implement many of the requirements necessary to meet the ARRA “meaningful use” criteria. If a healthcare systems wasn’t ready to begin the process at any time over the past several years what makes the US government think they’ll be ready just because they say so? Is the infrastructure in place? Do they have the resources to not only implement, but support the new systems as well? These are all questions that people should be asking. I for one am disappointed in our facility as we have decided to immediately move forward with projects that weren’t slated for another 18-24 months. To make this happen other projects have been placed lower in the priority queue, creating a lack of resources that risk jeopardizing the quality of both implementations.

Healthcare systems should not be directed down a path that they feel unprepared to face. Doing so will only invite failure.

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…..

    Talking “meaningful use” with our CIO.

    The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) is an $850 billion stimulus package passed by Congress aimed at encouraging economic growth in various industries through government spending. If you’re in healthcare, then you may be able to take advantage of $51 billion that has been allocated to the healthcare industry, $19 billion of which is aimed at the adoption and implementation of Electronic Health Records (EHRs), also known as Electronic Medical Records (EMRs). The only way to get your share of the money is to demonstrate that you are a “meaningful user” of an EHR system. The problem is figuring out what a “meaningful user” is.

    My curiosity about being a “meaningful user” led me to the office of our CIO, where I casually asked him if we were going to qualify for any of the funds allocated by the ARRA. He informed me that “meaningful user” had not been completely defined, and is currently a hot topic of discussion.

    Continue reading Talking “meaningful use” with our CIO.