Technology trends in health care

There have been serious technical errors that have been experienced in the past that affect medical field. These errors are experienced during the administration or transcriptions of drugs. The life of a human being is too precious to be left to hang precariously in the mercy of technology. There have been technologies that have been developed to ensure that the transactions that are handled by the medical staff are handled well. To help in the mitigation of these errors, there are technologies like bar-code which have been developed.

The bar-code technology is administered within a system which is based on electronic medication-administration system (bar-code eMAR). These are the two technologies which have been reported to be very successful in the medical field. Bar-code technology has been used in programs that are home-based; these are the programs where services are taken to the clients in the field. With the advent of smart phones like G1 Android phones, there is a lot to be desired. Information Technology in the health care sector promises to bring good hope for many medical institutions.

Bar-code technology has been shown to prevent errors that occur in the medical field. It has been shown that the use of this technology can be used to reduce the errors in dispensing the drugs in a pharmacy. It can also be used to count the number of sponges in a medical setting (Bates, Cullen, & Laird, 2005). There is the use of bar-code to have the correct identification of the patient, especially in the new medical records systems, Medical Record System (MRS) which has been used in openMRS system. This is the widely used technology that is in use today.

There are developments that are seen in the way bar-code and e-MAR can be used on the bedside of the patients thus helping the patients to have a clear monitoring of the drugs that is being administered; there is the ability of nurses to automatically document the administration of drugs so that a lot of errors are avoided. These two technologies have shaped the medical sector a great deal. The beauty of this system is the fact that the eMAR gets the medical orders from the pharmacy system or from the physician system; this has helped to reduce the errors that are associated with transcriptions.

With the potential that this technology has, there is a lot to be desired with the use of bar code (Bates, Spell, & Cullen, 2007). Whenever a patient is given a medication in the hospital, it is documented on a Medical Administration Record; this is stored in the hospital medical record. For a long time, this process has been a manual process. With today’s technology, the process has been improved with the use of eMAR technology where all aspects of the medical process are recorded electronically.

One of the core components of this technology is the use of armbands which are bar coded, medications which are bar coded, and safety checks which are part of the eMAR & Bar Coding software. How it works The working of this software is such that a bar coded armband is given to a patient. The bar code has corresponding information that includes the medical history of the patient, allergies and the current and past lab results. Also, the identifiers of the bar code on doses of medication which are shrink-wrapped.

Before the start of any medication, the nurses have to scan the armband of the patient with that of the medications so that the nurses are sure that the medication that is about to be administered is given to the right patient. This reduces the errors that have been committed in the past due to lack of enough tools to check this authenticity. The software also checks for the lab results and the history of the patient and if there are conflicts which are reported, the system will alert the medical personnel of this so that the repercussions are dealt with early enough.

The nurse administering the drug will have ample time to alert the doctor so that the doctor will give the right course of action. Factors that led to development of these technologies In the early 90s, medical practitioners and technologist placed a major emphasis on developing systems that could be used to manage the medical records and increase the safety of the patients while undergoing medications. In the year 1993, the errors in medical processes were reduced by 55% with the use of computerized practitioner order entry (CPOE).

The use of this system continued to record increased improvements in the medical processes; decision making was greatly improved and challenges associated with medical procedures were improved (Bates, Leape, & Cullen, 2006). In the wake of the year 2000, the medical fraternity saw the need to have efficient medical systems that could be used in the drug administration. Some of the recommendations that were made included the redesign of the Pharmacy Information System so that it could be used to online; there be need to improve the Pharmacy System so that it could be web-based (Kohn, Corrigan, & Donaldson, 1999).

This new technology could be integrated with the barcode technology in the preparation, check and the distribution of drugs. There was also a recommendation for the development of an electronic medication administration record (eMAR). With the use of this technology, it could also be possible to introduce bar-code point-of-care system (BPOC) at the bedside of the patient. There are some major components that are associated with eMAR technology. One of the components includes the elimination of transcription to paper MAR. It also gives a priority to medication administration.

There is also the component of the bed-side service where the patient is assured of the safety because no wrong drug can be administered. This is possible when the eMAR and barcode technologies can be combined together. It also provides real-time clinical data. There is also the enabling of communication between Pharmacy and CPOE systems using bi-directional wireless communication. For the rolling out of the technology to the medical staff, there is need to have extensive training using barcode scanners, laptop computers, and the eMAR application software.

Effects on services and finance The introduction eMAR and barcode technologies will have a great impact on the services of the hospital. There has been reports that there has been increased communication between doctors and nurses, and more so between the pharmacists and the nurses (Bates, Spell, & Cullen, 2007). This has positive relationship building between staff. Effective communication and collaboration between the pharmacy and nursing team mitigates tough challenges.

There have also been misconceptions between the nurses and the pharmacy team because of the software used for automating the ordering and administration of drugs. This misconception could be caused by nurses giving the wrong information, probably shifting from their normal way of doing things. But this is among the very few hiccups that have been associated with this technology; the advantages outweigh the disadvantages by far. Effective communication and collaboration between departments is effective when new technologies are to be introduced in any setup.

The financial implications include the fact that other systems which were supposed to be developed have been reduced drastically (Brennan, Leape, & Laird, 2001). This is because the integration of the other modules used in pharmacy has been reduced to form one whole system. There have been two different systems which are running parallel in the whole hospital. With the use of barcode and eMAR software, this has been drastically reduced. There has been an increase in the purchase of software which is proprietary of late.

With software going as high as $5000, the use of much software in the hospital will bring unnecessary expenses. The beauty of this is the fact that most of the software is open source (Poona et al, 2006). One of this is the common openmrs. org which is an open source system that is used worldwide. It has features that allow phones applications to be developed using XML that are able to send data and scan bar codes to take in patient identification information. This information is then synchronized to the computer. Threats to this technology

One of the threats to this technology is the fact that the patients will have no personal contact with the doctors. This is due to the fact that even drug administration will be automated. There are cases where the patients need human touch in their recovery process. With the use of this technology, the human interaction is gradually reduced in the technologies that are coming up. It is becoming an issue in the medical field. One of the ways of overcoming this is by making sure that there are nurses who are on duty even if the patient seems to be fine.

With this constant care to the patients, the care that has been consistent is maintained. References: Brennan, T. , Leape, L. , Laird, N. (2001). Incidence of adverse events and negligence in hospitalized patients. Harvard Medical Library. Kohn, T. , Corrigan, M, & Donaldson, M. (1999) To err is human: building a safer health system. Washington, DC: National Academy Press. Bates, W. , Spell N. , & Cullen, J. (2007). Adverse Drug Events Prevention Study Group. The costs of adverse drug events in hospitalized patients.

JAMA Publishers. Bates, W. , Leape, L. , & Cullen, D. (2006). Effect of computerized physician order entry and a team intervention on prevention of serious medication errors. JAMA Publishers. Bates, D. , Cullen, J. , & Laird, N. (2005). Incidence of adverse drug events and potential adverse drug events. JAMA Publishers. Poon, G. , Cina, L. , Churchill, W. , & Patel, N. (2006). Medication dispensing errors and potential adverse drug events before and after implementing bar code technology in the pharmacy. Ann Intern Med Publishers.

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