More thoughts on standardization

I’ve mentioned this before several times on this blog, but feel like I have to say it yet again; we need to start standardizing certain things about health information technology. The lack of standardization reared its ugly head at me again last week when our Pyxis med stations kept dropping medications off of patient’s active profiles. It appeared to always be the same drug, IV ketorolac. It took me a while to figure out the problem, but it turns out that Pyxis and our pharmacy system don’t agree on certain basic elements of time. Go figure.
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What we need is a system-neutral data structure for healthcare

During a web browsing session the other day I came across a very interesting blog post by Louis Gray titled “The Future: Operating System And Application-Neutral Data”. I enjoy reading Louis’ posts because I think he has a great vision for the future of personal computing, data, and “the cloud”

The blog speaks specifically to the ownership of personal data versus allowing companies to sit on it and possibly hold it hostage secondary to a lack of compatibility with other systems. The information you throw onto the internet defines who and what you are, more now than ever before, and you need to be able to move it around anytime from anywhere.
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Cool Technology for Pharmacy

Pandora Data Systems (PDS) is a company that, in the past, has designed software solutions to take information from automated dispensing cabinets (ADCs) like Pyxis, store it, manipulated it, run queries against it and produce reports that allow pharmacy departments to view medication usage trends; including trends to identify diversion.PDS now appears to be expanding their role with the introduction of PandoraVIA.

PandoraVIA is the next generation of data crunching software from the company. According to the PDS website “PandoraVIA is the new, full-featured reporting system from Pandora Data Systems. It’s designed to be a highly scalable and affordable platform built with Microsoft’s latest technologies. These technologies take the full functionality from our Pandora (Legacy Edition) and PandoraSQL products and move them to the next level.”

The new software framework is designed to accommodate various modules depending on the needs of the customer. The system currently supports Pyxis, AcuDose, Omnicell, MedDispense and Cerner. However, after spending some time with the Pandora representatives at AHSP Midyear they informed me that their new system could add custom data from almost any source based on need.

PandoraVIA utilizes XML, SOAP, and WSDL to meet the needs of the healthcare system, and is capable of a host of reports that can be exported in a variety of formats.

A system that can aggregate data from many different sources offers real value to many healthcare disciplines, especially pharmacy which is often driven by data. Data mining is important, but not always easy because of the myriad of systems utilized and the general poor quality of integration. In addition, many IT departments aren’t equipped with the necessary resources to handle a project of this magnitude; believe me, I’ve tried.

Data I would like pulled into such a system include our Alaris Smart Pump data, our pharmacy information system (Siemens Pharmacy) data, our automated dispensing cabinet (Pyxis) data, our carousel, packaging and inventory control (Talyst) data, and our bar code medication administration data. Aggregate data from these systems could be mined for an infinite number of possible trends and uses.

Posted via email from fahrni’s posterous

Getting pharmacists to lay down their 3×5 cards

The decentralized pharmacy model brings with it the opportunity for pharmacists to be an integral part of the medical team. This includes following teams of healthcare provides, physicians, nurses, respiratory therapists, etc, on morning rounds. And like all good little pharmacists we like to be prepared with as much information as possible about the patient. Several methods for collecting data have been developed over the years, including the all time favorite; the 3×5 index card. The problem with this system is obvious; it’s prone to human error. Taking information from one source and transcribing it somewhere else simply increases the chance for error. In addition, the information may be inaccurate as things can change rapidly with hospitalized patients, especially in areas like the ICU.
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Moving storage around in the “cloud”

black_cloudByteandSwitch:” One of the great theoretical advantages of cloud computing is the implied portability – users can move data in and among cloud resources easily, and the cloud itself may move data between and among resources without the customer being aware that anything has changed. In practice, cloud data can prove just as firmly rooted in physical location as any “traditional” data resource – but that could be changing with the rise of applications like NetApp’s new Data ONTAP 8 cloud storage system.” – The article goes on to say that the Data Motion system “allows data mobility with no downtime required for storage-subsystem expansion or scheduled maintenance,” That’s a nice thing to have as the ability to shuffle data around without affecting end users is important, but don’t you think it’s a little weird to talk about moving data from one cloud to another. I thought the whole point of the cloud environment was to eliminate the need for things like this. Anyone?

What are you going to do with all that data?

info_overloadInformationweek.com: “The rollout of e-prescription, digital medical record and other clinical systems by healthcare providers is undoubtedly creating gigantic new mountains of data. The next big challenges for healthcare is in using that data to make better clinical decisions and save costs, and becoming more proactive in helping patients avoid imminent medical problems. “It’s estimated that in five years, one-third of world’s data will be medical data,” Noffsinger [Richard Noffsinger, CEO of Anvita Health] says. “There are tons of medical data now, and that’s growing,” he says.” – Pharmacists are, by nature, driven by data. We analyze hundreds of data points every day; lab values, medication dosages, cultures, patient demographics, etc. Gathering data has never been a problem, knowing what to do with it is a whole different story. Finding someone that can turn raw data into discrete packets of usable information is like finding your very own genie in a bottle. It sounds like a good job for an IT pharmacist.

Sum(1) ..how could something so simple be so frustrating

This time of year always comes with a lot of requests for medication usage data from the Pharmacy Clinical Coordinator.  This year has been no exception. The most recent request was for a report identifying all medications in the pharmacy drug master that were used less than ten times in 2008. Seemed simple enough. Right. 
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