Poor economy equals fewer pharmacy IT projects

Healthcare IT News: “The economy is forcing hospitals to consider delaying or scaling back their IT projects, according to a survey of America’s “most wired” hospitals and health systems.The Most Wired Survey, conducted annually by Hospitals & Health Networks magazine, the journal of the American Hospital Association, found that even with incentives being made available to implement IT, hospitals  still have a long way to go.”

I can tell you from personal experience that the economic downturn is creating a negative impact on the implementation of pharmacy technology and automation. Several projects I’ve been working on didn’t make it past the chopping block for the next fiscal year. They include:

  • Bar Code Medication Administration (BCMA). This project has been delayed due to ever increasing demands on available money. Not only are hardware and software expensive, but educating nearly 1000 nurses can be quite costly as well.
  • Tablet PC implementation. My facility utilizes a decentralized model with pharmacists assigned to various services throughout the hospital. We have successfully implemented tablet PCs in the intensive care units and pediatrics, creating improved workflow for the pharmacists. Remaining services (general medicine, oncology, etc.) were scheduled to receive tablet PCs later this year. Not any more.
  • Additional automated storage. We have been successfully using several pieces of Talyst automation for more than a year now. The equipment has worked so well for us that I had plans to incorporate our refrigerated medications into their automated storage solution (i.e. AutoCOOL).
  • Extending our barcoding solution to offsite pharmacy satellites. Currently the inpatient pharmacy at our main campus is barcoding (AutoPack and AutoLabel) 100% of medications dispensed to the patient. A plan to extend the barcoding to offsite pharmacy satellites such as our rehabilitation and sub-acute units was designed earlier this year. The plan was one of the first to get nixed during budget negotiations. Bummer.
  • All the projects above were part of an overall plan to increase patient safety through the use of automation and technology. Unfortunately automation and technology is expensive and decisions must be made where to best use limited financial resources, no matter how painful. Luckily for me I still have plenty of work to do.

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