Update: Siemens Innovations 2010 – Day 1

Today was the first real working day at Innovations. Yesterday was taken up by all the registration stuff that you have to do when you arrive at a conference, and the welcome reception. Most of the morning was fairly benign as a good chunk of it was taken up by the opening session. I’m not a big fan of opening sessions as they tend to all sound the same. However, I did manage to squeeze in a couple of good sessions in addition to spending some time at the expo. I general love roaming the expo, but this year’s vendor selection is quite small and not really that interesting. It only took me about an hour to run through all the booths and collect a little reading material for later.

One unplanned event that I have to mention was the pleasure of eating breakfast next to Johnathan Paul, a senior engineer in enterprise R & D at Siemens. He casually sat down next to me this morning and asked me what sessions I was planning on attending. I promptly gave him my spiel about attending the various pharmacy sessions, but in addition I lamented the fact that I was going to miss the presentation on “Virtualization, Cloud Computing, SOA, Elasticity, De-Duplication…What Do These Technical Terms Really Mean and How Do We Apply Them?” because it was at the same time as the pharmacy update. I didn’t know at the time, but he was the presenter for that session. After I got past my initial embarrassment we had a great conversation about many of the topics he planned to cover. I came away with some great information and knowledge that Siemens is doing things behind the scenes that makes me downright giddy.

Session Attended

Medication Safety Track
Siemens Pharmacy / Medication Administration Check Solutions Update [Medication Administration Check, a.k.a. MAK, is Siemens BCMA system]

This is one of my favorite sessions to attend at Innovations because I like to see what I can expect out of Siemens Pharmacy in the near future. As I’ve mentioned previously our facility uses both Siemens Pharmacy and MAK and we’ve made it priority to always be up to date with the latest version of the software. Even though I was already aware of most of the information that was presented it was still good to get an official listing of enhancements coming down the pike.

Some of the new features presented include:

  • Lot number, expiration and manufacturer tracking for vaccines in both the pharmacy system and MAK. In addition, the service pack due out later this year will also allow transmission of that information to the California vaccine registry. This is huge for our facility as it’s been a real point of contention over the past several months.
  • The ability to attach a “reminder” to a medication in pharmacy at the formulary level or manually by the nurse. We currently use fake medication orders in the pharmacy system like “remove patch” to remind the nurses to do something. It’s not a good solution, but it works. With the upgrade these reminders can be built into the drug definition and will not require a separate entry by the pharmacists. This solves some issues and is a big positive in my opinion.
  • The option to add a barcode to a medication at the order level. This is the one I’ve been waiting for. This will allow us to place patient/drug specific barcodes on items like pediatric syringes and compounded medications that were previously problematic.
  • A completely redesigned pharmacy monitor. The pharmacy monitor is where incoming CPOE orders arrive in pharmacy. We don’t use the pharmacy monitor yet, but will as soon as we go live with CPOE later next year. The current pharmacy monitor has limited functionality and was in desperate need of an overhaul. The version shown today is a big improvement with expanded display, significantly more options for customization and better segregation of orders coming from various locations throughout the hospital. I think it sill needs some work and it won’t replace our current order management system, but it is a big improvement nonetheless.
  • And a couple little things like customized options for user maintenance, improved reporting for ARRA and an improved area for “pharmacy instructions”, i.e. comments not seen by everyone.

I’ve been fairly critical of Siemens Pharmacy in the past and still think they have a lot of work to do, but I am excited to see some of the changes taking place. They appear to have the right people in place and the right attitude toward advancing their system to make it better in the future. I will reserve further comment until I see Siemens Pharmacy v24.2 in action at my facility. We’re scheduled to be upgraded sometime in October of this year.

Technology Solutions Track
Use of Desktop Virtualization with Soarian Clinicals

This session presented the experience of Alegent Health in Omaha, NE as they implemented thin-client technology in several of their patient care areas. Most of the information was generic, but several great questions from the audience and a general discussion following the presentation added to the overall value of the session. I came away with a better understanding of several components of the virtualized desktop. I’m especially interested in their “smooth-roam” feature, their smart card technology for logging in and out of systems, and their use of Wallaroo Medical Stations in patient access areas.

One thing I thought was odd was the presenters opinion of various non-thin client solutions. He bashed the use tablet PCs based on reasons that I did not agree with. It gave me the impression that the presenters motives were a little skewed toward his opinion rather than presenting the facts. It could have been presented a little more objectively, but overall it was great information.

Medication Safety Track
Implementation of a Closed Loop Medication Solution

This presentation basically covered several projects at HealthAlliance Hospital designed to close the medication loop between the physician order and administration of medication at the bedside. I’ve seen presentations like this before. In fact, one of the best closed loop medication presentation I’ve ever seen was at ASHP Midyear in December 2009.

Solutions implemented at HealthAlliance Hospital included CPOE, pharmacy barcoding and unit-dose distribution, BCMA and eMAR. The presentation was a little dry, but made some important points. Several slides were presented showing changes in prescribing habits and recorded medication errors following each system implementation. No mention was given as to how the data was collected however, which lessons the impact of the information just a little bit.

Overall, the first day was a success. Tomorrows focus will be on CPOE in the morning, followed by my presentation at 11:00 am and a small group demonstration of Siemens newest version of Soarian Clinicals. I’ll let you know how it goes.

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