Insight into poor handwriting and why EHRs are important.

Florence dot com: “1. People who prescribe medications should use a system more sophisticated than the pine straw delivery guy’s [pen and paper] to communicate high-stakes drug information. 1,400 commonly prescribed drugs have names that look-alike or sound-alike. People can, and do, die when drug names are confused with one another.

2. Pharmacies should be able to receive prescription data in a format that does not require the tenacity of a middle-school math teacher on summer holiday to decipher.

3. Your electronic medication history–housed with your physicians, pharmacy, and any consumer portal you choose–should move seamlessly into hospital data repositories and be accessible, with your consent, during planned and emergent encounters.”
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Not everyone is happy with the idea of ePrescribing

The Angry Pharmacist: Don’t say that your pharmacy associations don’t do anything for you! Now GNP pharmacies get [$%#@] by their own for the low-low cost of only $0.30/eRx.  Here’s something about “quality, safety, and efficiency”: I have seen more errors, decimal point, and unit [$%#@] via SureScript eRx in one week than YEARS OF PAPER PRESCRIPTIONS.  In fact, I keep a file of all of the eRx [$%#@] that I get (it gets about 2-3 a day, that’s 15 a week) so when doctors say how WONDERFUL it is, I show them how many lives I have saved.  I’ve seen injection dose written instead of an oral dose, blatant overdoses, everything you can imagine.  I’ve even had controlled substances faxed to 2 different pharmacies 1 min apart for a cash paying patient MULTIPLE TIMES.  Hows that for safety and quality! …Now here’s the dirty secret of eRx’s …  You see, the “old fashioned way”, doctors had to sign each Rx they gave out to the patient.  However those days are long gone thanks to ePrescribing.  Now all some idiot has to know is the doctors password and ANYONE IN THE OFFICE CAN SEND OFF PRESCRIPTIONS.  That’s right, this bullshit doesn’t save the pharmacies any time, but it saves the doctor a bunch because its pretty much giving anyone who works in the office the power to sign and give patients legit prescriptions (even for controlled substances!)  Before, you had to steal the doctors pad and write out phonies, now anyone in the office with access to the eRx terminal can splatter out narcotics to every pharmacy that takes eRx’s and nobody would be the wiser.” – The author has some pretty interesting things to say about ePrescribing in general. I guess the process isn’t exactly ready for prime time. Take a minute to read the entire article, but only if you don’t have sensitive ears.

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.

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Radio-frequency identification (RFID) as a form of EHR

TheHealthCareBlog.com:   When Harvard Medical School and CareGroup CIO Dr. John Halamka agreed to place his medical  information on an RFID chip and have it implanted it in his arm, he triggered an instant global spotlight on this unusual form of portable electronic medical record.  The decision, made in December 2004 and disclosed in early 2005, captured worldwide attention from places a diverse as Fox News, the BBC and the New England Journal of Medicine (where Halamka contributed a commentary ).

As recently as 2007, a debate over chip privacy and safety versus having critical medical data instantly at hand (as it were) was featured in a PLoS Medicine exchange.  In it, Halamka asserted, “Implantation of RFID devices is one tool, appropriate for some patients based on their personal analysis of risks and benefits, that can empower patients by serving as a source of identity and a link to a personal health record when the patient cannot otherwise communicate.””
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