Feature Story

Healthcare Informatics Improve Pharmacy Operations, Help Reduce Errors and Move Pharmacists Closer to Patients’ Care

EXACTAMIX Compounder

A pharmacy technician can use the EXACTAMIX Compounder to custom-mix parenteral nutrition solutions for the specific needs of each patient.

When a patient enters the hospital, their care is impacted by a comprehensive healthcare system involving various providers and technologies. The hospital pharmacy is a central player within this system both physically providing medication, and helping to ensure that safe and effective medication therapy is a key component of each patient's care.

"Our pharmacists and technicians help manage all phases of the medication management process, including interviewing and educating patients," says Brandon Ordway, PharmD, MS, director of pharmacy operations for HealthEast Care System in St. Paul, Minn. "Pharmacists are the only health-care providers who have the knowledge and expertise to manage the thousands of medications used in hospitals on a daily basis."

Today, pharmacists in many hospitals are using a combination of health science, chemical science and, more recently, information science (informatics) to take on more integrated responsibilities that often begin in the pharmacy but extend all the way to the patient's bedside.  Making this possible are new technologies, such as automated compounders, IV robotics, automated dispensing cabinets and workflow management software that helps in the acquisition, storage, analysis, use and dissemination of medication.

"Informatics and the management of the various clinical systems involved play a large role in supporting the integrated workflow of our pharmacy. Informatics allows pharmacists to do more clinical-type work because of the efficiencies gained, which translates to improved patient care," Ordway adds.

DoseEdge Pharmacy Workflow Manager

The DoseEdge Pharmacy Workflow Manager, software that is regularly updated, was designed to promote safety, reduce waste and enhance pharmacy productivity by providing visibility to the entire dose preparation and dispensing process.

Pharmacy informatics is developing rapidly as a specialty within the practice of integrated medication therapy that enhances hospital pharmacy operations by improving communication, documentation and efficiency. 

"Informatics allows pharmacists to make a more meaningful impact on patient care and hospital efficiency by automating record-keeping tasks and releasing pharmacist time for more patient-centered functions," says Dennis Tribble, PharmD, pharmacy informatics expert and medical director at Baxter. "Tools such as automated inventory systems, patient medication profiling systems, and IV workflow systems have transformed hospital pharmacy practice, designed to help reduce the opportunity for error, reduce manual record-keeping, and facilitate a more clinical role for pharmacists in medication therapy."

For example, the DoseEdge Pharmacy Workflow Manager helps automate and track the medication process from preparation through dispensing-while providing important documentation for the entire process. To date, the system has identified more than 1.3 million potential medication errors.1

As improving technology allows for more efficiency, safer practices, fewer errors and improved communication, pharmacists may have more flexibility to move beyond the walls of the pharmacy. More and more, pharmacists are able to bring their expertise directly to the hospital floor and to the patient bedside, working in conjunction with physicians and nurses to coordinate patient treatment plans-and bringing even more benefits to the patient and hospital.

"Today's hospital pharmacists are responsible for patient safety and education, medication security and hospital efficiency, to name just a few," Tribble stresses, "Connecting their specialized knowledge with pharmacy informatics can translate into improved workflow and patient care."

For more information about Baxter's pharmacy products, please click here: http://www.baxtermedicationdeliveryproducts.com/pharmacy-workflow/pharmacyworkflow.html.

For more information about the DoseEdge System, please click here: www.doseedge.com.

1Data on file; aggregated from March 2008 through May 2014