Sutter Health partners with Qventus for real-time analytics

FierceHealthcare: “That’s what led them to invest in a new platform that went beyond algorithms and software to emphasize the data’s tangible impact on clinician workflow and hospital operations… Although Sutter Health has worked with the company [Qventus] on several other initiatives targeting patient throughput, the pharmacy pilot is the system’s first significant foray into leveraging real-time or near-real-time analytics to influence care decisions. Beyond the machine learning platform, Sutter was drawn to the workflow specialists dispatched by the company to follow pharmacy care teams in order to better understand the ideal format to deliver data-driven insights.” – Sutter is a big organization. They have the resources and the desire to do some pretty amazing things. I’ve had the opportunity to speak with them on a few occasions and found them open to things outside the traditional pharmacy box. That’s truly rare in pharmacy these days.

Sutter is planning to target cost and quality using the Qventus AI-based software platform. I’m not familiar with Qventus. I went to their website, but things were vague. Unfortunately, that’s not uncommon. I find a lot of technology vendors lack good information about their products on their own websites. Strange but true.

AI-based platforms are the future of pharmacy. We simply spend too much time looking for needles in haystacks. Imagine: no more “monitoring sheets”, no more time spent by pharmacists rummaging through every chart looking for that one thing out of place, improved antibiotic stewardship, directed therapy based on patient condition and need, optimized pharmacotherapy, improved inventory management, decreased waste, and so on and so forth. The possibilities are endless.

Let’s hope that Sutter shares their experience with the rest of the world so that we can all learn from their initiative.

EHRs are an untapped, but almost impossible to use, health resource

We’re all familiar with the promise of “big data” in healthcare. Crud, I’m a huge fan of using data. I think the amount of information inside an EHR has the potential to do a lot of wonderful things, not only for healthcare in general but specifically for a pharmacist. How many kinetic consults have been done by hand, tracked manually, and refined by voodoo magic? Thousands, I can assure you. The number of things pharmacists still do manually is staggering. “Monitoring” should no longer involve rummaging through charts — electronic or otherwise — looking for tidbits of information that need to be “fixed”. The days of dosing medications like vancomycin, warfarin, phenytoin, and aminoglycosides — just to name a few — should be long gone. We can contemplate building a Hyperloop, but we can’t figure out how to get someone’s INR to a therapeutic level within five days? Seriously, think about that for a second.

FierceHealthcare: “For public health agencies, tapping into EHR data could augment the costly and time-consuming process of surveys….Data analytics has emerged as a key tool for providers to target high-risk populations with chronic conditions, although some have argued that health IT systems are still ill-equipped to adequately manage population health.” There’s the crux of the matter, data is valuable, but it’s tough to get. I’ve only recently started to request specific data from the EHR to look at some things I find interesting. Unfortunately, I’ve run into roadblocks. Apparently, the data inside an EHR — at least inside this particular EHR — isn’t easy to retrieve. At least that’s what I’ve been told. How hard can it be? Dude, just dump the raw data somewhere and I’ll build the queries myself. Again, apparently not that easy. 

In a nutshell, all patient data, from demographics and notes to labs and medication use should be easily accessible to anyone with appropriate credentials, i.e. a pharmacist that works for the hospital where an EHR is used, for example. Only when we, as healthcare professionals, can access data at will, and use that data to answer questions, will EHRs become valuable to patient care. At present, EHRs are full of potentially valuable information that no one can get. It’s like having a savings account that only allows deposits, no withdrawals. The balance might look great, but what do you do when you need a little money and the bank says “sorry, there’s no way to take your money out”? Throw in the fact that EHRs are a usability nightmare and you realize that we have a long way to go.

Increased IV production means increased automation…and data

Interesting timing on this article at Healthcare IT News: “With an eye on improving safety, increasing compliance and reducing waste, an increasing number of hospitals and health systems are looking to insource and automate their IV compounding processes… Campbell said that the transition to robotic sterile compounding has resulted in a cost savings of $100,000…At the core of the technology is Omnicell’s REINVENT – Registry for Intravenous Technology in Pharmacy – global, multi-site data registry designed to collect compounded sterile preparation data from hospitals and health systems for evaluation, analysis and insight.”

I spent some time earlier this week speaking with Omnicell about their IV room automation and technology, including REINVENT. I’ve written about REINVENT before. Since that time, Omnicell has made big strides in connecting customers and collecting sterile compounding data.

It is my belief that most companies in this space fail to understand the value of all the data floating around in pharmacies. There is so much untapped potential there. Few vendors have given serious consideration to how best to deal with it, much less create a product that brings value to their customers. I’m pretty stoked about what Omnicell is doing with REINVENT and hope that other vendors will follow their lead. The future of pharmacies is in the data.

Google improves symptom search

I’m sure most of you have Googled for medical advice at one time or another. I know I’ve performed quick Google searches for healthcare information, including specific drug information.

It turns out that a lot of people search for symptoms online, and the information isn’t always helpful. Sometimes a little information can send people’s minds cascading into full panic mode, i.e. get a tension headache, search for symptoms and end up thinking you’re dying from a brain aneurysm.

Google understands the problem and has improved symptoms search.

Roughly 1 percent of searches on Google (think: millions!) are symptom-related. But health content on the web can be difficult to navigate, and tends to lead people from mild symptoms to scary and unlikely conditions, which can cause unnecessary anxiety and stress.

So starting in the coming days, when you ask Google about symptoms like “headache on one side,” we’ll show you a list of related conditions (“headache,” “migraine,” “tension headache,” “cluster headache,” “sinusitis,” and “common cold”). For individual symptoms like “headache,” we’ll also give you an overview description along with information on self-treatment options and what might warrant a doctor’s visit. By doing this, our goal is to help you to navigate and explore health conditions related to your symptoms, and quickly get to the point where you can do more in-depth research on the web or talk to a health professional.

As I mentioned above, I’ve used Google to look for pharmacy specific drug information. Most of my colleagues do the same thing on a regular basis. It’s amazing what can be found with a few key words and the click of mouse.

We live in a digital world. Information has never been more accessible nor more overwhelming. Clinicians have unfettered access to information that one couldn’t have imagined just ten years ago. Information has become cheap, plentiful, and readily available to anyone with internet access. Journals, reference books, provider forums, clinical trial hubs, drug monographs, study data, and so on can be accessed anytime, from anywhere. This thanks to the development of cellular networks and mobile devices. Everything is simply a click away.

I still work an occasional per diem shift at a local hospital, and take my word for it when I say that it’s never been easier to access information. When I compare this to how I gathering information when I became a pharmacist some twenty years ago, my head spins.

I’ve always wondered what it would be like if one were to give Google access to all the currently available literature and reference material in real time. The idea of such a vast amount of knowledge at one’s fingertips is mind boggling, to say the least.

Using data to build proactive drug error prevention models

Data is variously described as the oxygen of the digital economy or the new raw material of the 21st century.“-Nigel Shadbolt

There are more than a few issues with today’s medication order entry systems. However, in this post I want to focus on only two.

First, alert fatigue. As a pharmacist that has entered his fair share of orders I can tell you that alert fatigue is real. Order entry systems, including CPOE, are designed to indiscriminately alert users of every possible problem associated with the patient’s profile and the order being entered. When entering orders for a patient with complex medical conditions, this can become a bit frustrating because a majority of these alerts are of little to no value. After a while you begin to blow through alerts because so many are simply a waste of your time. Unfortunately, when this happens you will occasionally miss something important. It happens.

Second, the “perfect medication error”.(1) This occurs when a physician inadvertently utilizes CPOE to order the wrong medication for a patient – or the right drug for the wrong patient – but the order meets all the necessary checks and balances to end up on the medication profile, i.e. no allergies, meets all appropriate dosing parameters, there are no drug-drug interactions, labs are fine, and so on. This is an issue that appeared on my radar while performing an FMEA for a CPOE implementation when I was still working as an IT pharmacist.
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It’s time for pharmacy to find ways to collect and share information

Regardless of what everyone thinks, the healthcare industry is in the infancy of “big data”. The concept isn’t new, but we still have a long way to go, especially in pharmacy. I recall sitting at conferences years ago listening to sessions describing data collection and manipulation. The problem has been that data, especially that found in pharmacies is scattered across disparate systems without an effective method for connecting the dots. The adoption of electronic health records (EHRs) has made things better, but much of the data collected in an average acute care pharmacy is outside the EHR’s reach.  And to say that most pharmacies have their collective heads buried in the sand, would be putting it kindly.

Those on the outside often find it difficult to understand the sheer volume of data that’s produced in a pharmacy. Unfortunately, the data sources are mostly stored in disparate systems creating silos, which makes each system blind to the others. Is is possible to connect the systems and exchange data? Sure, but few if any are doing it.

Data sources in pharmacies come from places like clinical interventions, inventory management, cost containment strategies, regulatory compliance, internal communications, and so on.
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Cool Pharmacy Technology – Aesynt REINVENT [it’s about the data]

Data surrounds us. We’re deluged by it in every facet of our lives, from the bank statements we receive in our personal life to the mountains of data collected in healthcare. Regardless of the data collected, there are basically three things that can be done with the information. It can be ignored, archived, or used. Unfortunately only one of those three things is truly meaningful, using it.

Many, especially in pharmacy, chose to ignore or archive data rather than use it. That’s not because the information isn’t valuable, but rather because they are overwhelmed with the amount of information they receive and simply have no idea what to do with it. Throw in the fact that the more data we collect, the more useful it becomes, and things get weird. Seems counterintuitive, but data collected from a single source, say one pharmacy i.v. room, offers little value.

Single source data creates several problems, such as potential bias, the inability to find trends that may be available in larger data sets, and failure to create usable comparisons to others that may offer insight into improved operations. Only when data is collected from several different sources does one truly begin to understand its value.
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Do patients in the U.S. really own their healthcare data?

Yesterday I was reading through my Twitter stream when I came across a brief exchange between Eric Topol (@EricTopol)  and Farzad Mostashari (@Farzad_MD). Both are big names in the digital healthcare space.

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Cool Technology for Healthcare – GPS SmartSole

Yep, you read the right, GPS-enabled insoles for your shoes. Very interesting concept when you stop to consider the potential benefits of such technology in healthcare, i.e. think Alzheimer’s for one, although the use cases are expansive.

Up until a couple of weeks ago I had never heard of the GPS SmartSole, but apparently they’ve been around for a while. According to the company website – GTX Corp – the product has been around since 2008. Who knew?

The technology gives users the ability to track individual’s location via any smartphone, tablet, or other web-enabled device. Caregivers can even configure the system to send text and email alerts when the user leaves a designated area. Of course it only works if the user is wearing their shoes.

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Podcast | The Garage – Episode 1

Welcome to The Garage, a podcast of me and my brother talking about various things.  We have great conversations and have talked about recording them for years. We finally decided to do it.

In Episode 1 of The Garage we talk about smartphones, cloud storage, Office 365, a bit about healthcare, tablets – mostly the new iPad Air and iPad Mini – the use of RSS, and data consumption. In other words, we’re all over the board.

Forgive my heavy nose breathing as I had no idea that I sounded like a bull snorting before a charge. I’ll work on that.
Continue reading Podcast | The Garage – Episode 1