Talyst goes live with new customer portal

Talyst has been beta-testing a new customer portal for several months now. The idea was introduced to Talyst customers at their user group meeting during the ASHP Summer Meeting in Chicago last June. Beta-testing took place between the summer meeting and December 2009 when Talyst unveiled the portal to a larger user group meeting in Las Vegas at the ASHP Midyear. Attendees were given a demonstration of the portal and offered an opportunity to provide feedback on possible issues or features they’d like to see. Well, it appears that the portal is out of the beta phase and ready for use.


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Quick hit: Don’t over-specialize within HIT

During the implementation phase of an important project you never want to hear someone say “oh, <insert name here> is the only one that can do that and they’re gone until Monday.” Doh!

Just a friendly piece of advice: no company larger than one employee should have individuals that are so specialized that no one else can do their job in a pinch. People, especially in the healthcare information technology (HIT) field, should be crossed trained appropriately so that things like this don’t happen. Not everyone will be as good as the person that “owns” the process, but it’s better than getting caught with your pants down around your ankles. Understand my meaning? I’m just sayin’.

Cool Technology for Pharmacy

IV Automation / Robotics

Today I attended a webinar from Baxa titled “Improving Sterile Compounding Quality Through Automation” given by Eric Kastango RPh, MBA, FASHP. The presentation was very interesting. I thought it was going to focus more on technology, but it was heavy on the human component of contamination in the clean room environment with only minor mention of automated IV devices. Anyway, during the presentation Kastago talked a bit about robotic automation for clean rooms and mentioned the CytoCare Robot.

The CytoCare Robot is a chemotherapy compounding robot in an ISO class 5 environment. According to the website CytoCare is “the world’s first and only automated robotic system for the safe compounding of hazardous, life-critical cancer therapy medications.”


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Epocrates beta for webOS

It looks like Epocrates beta is available for the Palm webOS platform. Check out the video below to get the gist for the look and feel of the app.

I don’t use Epocrates myself. My mobile drug information resources of choice come from Lexi-Comp. However, Epocrates is a very popular and highly respected resource among healthcare professionals.

Unfortunately Palm and the webOS don’t appear to have a good long-term prognosis in the smartphone arena. I’ve been reading various reports that Palm may be on its way out secondary to the iPhone, BlackBerry and newer android devices. That’s really too bad. I’ve been a big fan of the Palm operating system since its inception back in the 1990’s. In fact, I would be using a Palm Pre today if it would have been available through Verizon when I purchased my DROID.

I’d love to talk with someone at Palm about building an 8-10” slate tablet device running webOS. The simplicity of the operating system and the ability to really have multiple applications open at once is very appealing. Consider that you can also run legacy Palm OS software on webOS-based devices via emulator software like Classic from Motionapps, and you really have something to like. I fear that this is only a dream, however, as I haven’t heard a peep about anything from Palm even remotely resembling a tablet device.

So, Palm, if you ever feel the need to build a tablet device please give me a call. I have some ideas for you.

Lenovo has been busy

Tablet PC
CNet
: “Lenovo updated its x series tablet with a new x201 model that packs Intel’s newest low-power Core i5 and i7 processors. In addition to the performance improvement that comes with the faster Core i series chips, the x201 also boasts better battery life over previous models, according to Mika Majapuro, senior worldwide product marketing manager at Lenovo.” – Lenovo currently makes one of the premiere tablet PCs on the market; the ThinkPad X200. I’m thrilled that they are continuing their great tradition of convertible tablets despite the popularity of slate devices so far this year; the iPad, the windows based HP Slate and the Notion Ink Adam, an android based tablet device. According to the article Lenovo continues to make convertible tablets secondary to feedback from customers. Hey, I think the convertible tablet is the way to go.

Dual Screen laptop
The same CNet article mentions that “Lenovo also announced 17-inch ThinkPad models, including the W701 and W701ds (dual screen) ThinkPad. These also come with new Intel Core i series processors.” – My opinions regarding dual screen laptops can be found here. Overall I like the concept and think they’re pretty cool now that I’ve had some time to get used to the idea. I will definitely give one a try if and when I can.

Time for a new model of data storage and software distribution in pharmacy

There was a time when I thought all a pharmacist needed to do his job was a pen and a calculator. It was just so cumbersome to carry anything else. If you wanted to have mobile drug information it meant carrying a drug reference book with you everywhere. Who can forget being in pharmacy school where every self respecting pharmacy student had a Drug Information Handbook stuffed in their lab coat pocket along with all the other stuff they carried like a homemade peripheral brain scribbled on the pages of a notebook or on those neat little 3×5 cards.
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Apple, AT&T and Verizon: Can’t you boys figure out a way to play together?

Medical Smartphones: “We all know that the AT&T network is having difficulty keeping up with the data load caused by a multitude of iPhone users. What will happen when the iPad becomes available? Will the networks get more congested? Will AT&T have the necessary infrastructure to provide adequate 3G services for all these new iPads that will be floating around?” – Joseph goes on to ponder how long it will take Versizon to get the iPhone as his wife is eagerly waiting for it. I too have been waiting for the iPhone to drop into Verizon hands. Even though I’m satisfied with my Droid, I will convert to the iPhone once available through my carrier. Unless, of course, something better comes along in the meantime. The reason why I would switch is simple; the iPhone is so widely used among healthcare professionals that application development for the device is on the forefront of technology. If you can’t find it for the iPhone, then it probably doesn’t exist.

So, what will happen when the iPad hits AT&T? I have no idea because I don’t plan to buy one with 3G. I will use the device like I use my iPod touch now; inside the walls of my house, the hospital and Starbucks.

“What’d I miss?” – Week of February 14th

As usual there were a lot of things that happened during the week, and not all of it was pharmacy or technology related. Here’s a quick look at some of the stuff I found interesting.
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Efficacy of handhelds for radiologic consultation

To continue with the radiology theme from yesterday: Toomey RJ, Ryan JT, McEntee MF, et al. Diagnostic Efficacy of Handheld Devices for Emergency Radiologic Consultation. Am. J. Roentgenol. 2010;194(2):469-474.

Abstract: Diagnostic Efficacy of Handheld Devices for Emergency Radiologic Consultation
OBJECTIVE. Orthopedic injury and intracranial hemorrhage are commonly encountered in emergency radiology, and accurate and timely diagnosis is important. The purpose of this study was to determine whether the diagnostic accuracy of handheld computing devices is comparable to that of monitors that might be used in emergency teleconsultation.
SUBJECTS AND METHODS. Two handheld devices, a Dell Axim personal digital assistant (PDA) and an Apple iPod Touch device, were studied. The diagnostic efficacy of each device was tested against that of secondary-class monitors (primary class being clinical workstation display) for each of two image types—posteroanterior wrist radiographs and slices from CT of the brain—yielding four separate observer performance studies. Participants read a bank of 30 wrist or brain images searching for a specific abnormality (distal radial fracture, fresh intracranial bleed) and rated their confidence in their decisions. A total of 168 readings by examining radiologists of the American Board of Radiology were gathered, and the results were subjected to receiver operating characteristics analysis.
RESULTS. In the PDA brain CT study, the scores of PDA readings were significantly higher than those of monitor readings for all observers (p 0.01) and for radiologists who were not neuroradiology specialists (p 0.05). No statistically significant differences between handheld device and monitor findings were found for the PDA wrist images or in the iPod Touch device studies, although some comparisons approached significance.
CONCLUSION. Handheld devices show promise in the field of emergency teleconsultation for detection of basic orthopedic injuries and intracranial hemorrhage. Further investigation is warranted.

I’m not as sharp as many of you so I had to actually look up the word roentenology, which means “Radiology, the science of radiation and, specifically, the use of both ionizing (like X-ray) and nonionizing (like ultrasound) modalities for the diagnosis and treatment of disease.”

According to the article “the scores of PDA readings were significantly higher than those of monitor readings when all observers’ readings are taken into account” and “no statistically significant differences between handheld device and monitor findings were found for the PDA wrist images or in the iPod Touch devices studies, although some comparisons did approach significance.”

An interesting follow-up to this study would be to insert an iPad into the same scenario against the iPod touch. I would be very interested to see how radiologists would react to that. The iPad would offer similar functionality to the iPod touch with the advantage of a larger screen. I can only speculate that more screen real estate would be preferred over less screen real estate for radiologists if given a choice. Just a thought.

SaaS and speech recognition for EHRs

CMIO: “In the past, major barriers to EHR adoption included high upfront costs and lack of IT resources to implement and maintain the technology,” the report stated. “A SaaS model solves both of these issues and Ovum believes it is the best approach for physician offices and small hospitals. With a predictable, monthly expense, a subscription-based SaaS EHR is a much easier cost for providers to swallow.” Speech recognition tools have helped increase EHR adoption among clinicians by increasing the accuracy of the patient health record—providers don’t need to make as many corrections. Speech recognition should feed directly into the PHR without the lag time of transcription, according to the report.” – It makes sense that Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) and speech recognition could be used to increase EHR adoption rates. Together they offer several potential benefits as well as creating a better user experience. In fact, I’m a fan of both and have blogged about how I think they could be used in pharmacy; here and here.  However, in regards to speech recognition, an educational session at the 95th Annual Meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA) reports that “a study by Zoltani and colleagues conducted at their facility found that 68 percent of more than 17,000 finalized reports contained errors, 15 percent of which could potentially change the meaning of the report. A radiologist’s experience, sex and caseload were not associated with significant differences in error rates.”