Update from day two at the unSUMMIT

Today was the first full day of unSUMMIT activity and I found myself picking up quite a bit of useful information. I didn’t attend every session, but managed to make the most of the ones I did. Even though the conference is billed as bedside barcoding I found that many of the presentations went beyond barcoding to include clinical decision support, techniques for education, troubleshooting tips and tips on how to best create a multi-disciplinary team for project planning and implementation. 

Dennis Tribble’s presentation on “Alternatives to Barcoding: RFID and RTLS” was very interesting. For those of you that don’t already know, RFID stands for Radio-frequency identification and RTLS for Real Time Location System.

Tribble did a good job of explaining the basic concepts behind RFID. He also made a good case for the use of RFID alone or in combination with current bar coding technology to improve safety and improve medication tracking in healthcare systems. He used plenty of examples to illustrate his point and help everyone understand why we need to take this technology seriously. The amount of information that can be embedded in RFID tags alone makes them worthwhile in my opinion. Unfortunately the high cost of RFID tags remains a deterrent to their widespread implementation.

Ronald Schneider spent some time talking about “VA: 10 Years of Innovation with Barcode Medication Administration.” One thing is certain, the VA takes BCMA/BPOC seriously and has developed various systems for automatically collecting bad barcode information, tracking and submitting that information to the FDA, testing hardware, software and vendor wristbands. If they haven’t already, they should make this information available to the general public, i.e. all healthcare systems.

One other takeaway from Schneider’s presentation was the amazing effort the VA has put into creating a single, well integrated database in which all this information is housed. The data is stored in a centralized repository where it is readily accessible for viewing and reporting via a simple web interface. It’s refreshing to see someone developing a robust data collection system instead of creating data silos that no one can get into.

Dennis Hoover from Yakima Memorial Hospital in Yakima, Washington covered the use of various metrics to monitor barcoding and how to utilize this information to make improvements. I spent a little time at Yakima Memorial a couple of years ago and can say that Dennis has done an incredible job with their BPOC. I tried to use much of his philosophy when we built our system and began rolling it out. His use of “nurse champions” to continuously monitor usage, educate nursing and improve the system has proven effective.

In addition Yakima has done a good job of integrating BCMA/BPOC into not only their acute care facility, but many of their ambulatory and long term care areas as well. Not many facilities can boast as much because many systems stop at the acute care boundary.

I rounded out the day by spending some time learning about education from a tandem, Carol Bair and Randy Adams, out of Midland Memorial Hospital and listening to some outcome data from Leah Wright from Jefferson Regional Medical Center. Leah didn’t seem too fond of pharmacy, but I won’t hold it against her. We can be a rough bunch to deal with at times.

In addition to the presentations above I also took in the Poster Gallery and sat in on a couple of the “Vendor Theaters” presented by Motorola and Code Corporation. The information presented by the vendors wasn’t anything I haven’t heard before, but it was interesting nonetheless. Our facility uses Code Corp scanners both in the pharmacy and up on the nursing units for BCMA. And Motorola presented information on some nifty mobile devices.

3 thoughts on “Update from day two at the unSUMMIT”

  1. Jerry: Really interesting comments. Thank you for sharing them in this way. I wish I had known about the unSummit in advance to have attended. Do you get the impression that the quality of the barcode itself–it’s “legibility” to the scanner–is sometimes a problem or are barcode-related problems more likely to be wrong data or database prolems?

  2. Hi John, I think there is room for improvement in barcode quality from the manufacturers, but for the most part the quality is decent. The bigger issue in my opinion is a lack of standardized data and the manual maintenance of pharmacy databases. It seems that the drug makers are constantly tweaking the information in the barcode, which creates inconsistant scans on our end. So I guess the answer to your question is all of the above. Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to leave a comment. Appreciate the interaction.

  3. Jerry,
    Great, accurate comments! Check out http://www.rxscan.com/rx.shtml. RxScan’s NDC Translator software is designed to eliminate having to deal with the continual manufacturer tweaking of the information in the NDC barcodes. Designed originally for use in my community pharmacy (in 1997) to accurately enter 11 digit NDC #’s into the dispensing system it is now used by pharmacy and hospital clients to scan 100s of millions of drug bar codes each year. For example, it is a key component of Massachusetts General Hospital’s BCMA system. You may have noticed “RxScan” in their poster at the unSUMMIT.

    NDC Translator works great with Code Corp scanners and the other major brands/models of bar code scanners. It intercepts the data in the bar code (1D/2D barcodes, it doesn’t matter)as the scanner sends it out and reformats it into the 11 digit version of the NDC #.(including putting the zero in the correct location) This allows you to standardize on only having the 11 digit NDC number in the cross reference file part of your drug dictionary. All the work of manually building and maintaining your cross reference file with the raw bar code data is eliminated.

    The proof is in the pudding, contact me (800-572-2648 x 202)and we can set up a web demo and I would be happy provide you will a fully functioning demo copy. Fair warning You will be amazed at how NDC scanning issues disappear.

    Best Regards,

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