Meditech Version 6 – Does glitz and glam equal better functionality?

EMR Daily News: “A new KLAS report takes a closer look at the latest release of the Meditech electronic medical record (EMR) software and whether it’s a viable solution to help Meditech’s more than 2,000 clinical customers reach the meaningful use threshold. The release of Meditech 6.0 brings with it high expectations for making the software better suited for physician use, which is a key aspect of the federal government’s definition of meaningful use and a traditional weakness of Meditech systems. According to the KLAS report “Meditech Version 6: A Strong Step Forward?”, early adopters of version 6 are reporting positive results, including an improved user interface and easier navigation, but many obstacles still stand in the way of widespread adoption. “Meditech has long struggled with deep CPOE adoption, and version 6 is geared toward addressing that gap,” said Jason Hess, KLAS general manager of clinical research and author of the Meditech report. “However, several issues will likely impact how quickly version 6 is rolled out to the Meditech customer base.”

Issues listed in the article include the inability of Meditech to upgrade their entire client base (2000 clinical clients) in time to take advantage of the available federal stimulus dollars and the significant cost of upgrading, which many of Meditech’s community hospital clients may be unable to accommodate. The article goes on to say that “the cost concerns, plus the fact that the technology of version 6 is such as significant upgrade, have led some customers to consider moving to another solution. Most of the hospitals considering a switch are community hospitals with fewer than 200 beds, which will likely have less access to capital and human resources and cannot afford CPOE false starts.”

I’m a long time veteran user of the Meditech pharmacy system. The first hospital I worked at following graduation from pharmacy school used Meditech. The system was a little cumbersome to use, but lightning fast. Since that time, I have worked in several different hospitals and been exposed to several versions of Meditech. Each Meditech upgrade that I’ve been exposed to involved an increased reliance on the mouse for navigation and less reliance on the keyboard. While this sounds like a good thing, people fail to realize that it creates significantly reduced efficiency. The keyboard is typically faster than the mouse.

Most recently I spent a little time performing order entry on Meditech version 5.6.4. The system offers lots of pretty screens, but not much in the way of performance. Some of my favorite Meditech features have disappeared in favor of a more “user friendly” environment. This is clearly the trend in pharmacy information systems as companies are preparing for CPOE, which is basically the pharmacy information system with a fancy paintjob and a few extras. Unfortunately, the focus on designing systems for CPOE is, in the long run, hurting pharmacy. While easier to navigate and possibly easier to teach, the cleaner, more “windows” driven interface slows down the order entry process. This is an perplexing issue that no one appears to be talking about. I’ll take functionality over a pretty user interface every time. I’m curious to see how things will turn out over the next 24 months as healthcare will see ever increasing adoption of CPOE systems. Will pharmacy cry foul, or accept the changes as part of the greater good? Only time will tell.

2 thoughts on “Meditech Version 6 – Does glitz and glam equal better functionality?”

  1. The VA has been using VistA for pharmacist verification for decades. I used the similarly mumps developed application in the DoD (CHCS). It is the fastest around. Not pretty, but fast. I am not really sure where the happy medium lies, but the fact is pharmacists are comfortable with text based input, but doctors never saw that era of application interfaces. They only know the windows world, and the more comfortable they are, the more vendors will sell.

  2. I think you hit the nail on the head with your assessment, pillguy. I remember the Meditech system 10 years ago when you could literally blaze through the order entry process. While speed isn’t everything, it certainly helps. Mistakes are more likely to happen when you’re behind and overwhelmed then when you’re on top of things. I don’t know where the answer lies either, but it’s going to get a little tricky. Sometimes I think we need to all get in a room together and hash out some ground rules. Thanks for your insight.

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