Disparity persists between health IT in hospitals and system integration

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ORLANDO – Most U.S. hospitals and health systems use multiple complex health information technologies (IT) to support patient medication use, but only some of them have integrated these systems, according to results of an American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP) survey released today at the 2008 HIMSS conference.

The results from the ASHIP survey of U.S. Hospital and Health System Adoption & Implementation of Health Information Technology found that 51.2 percent of pharmacy information systems are integrated within a larger suite of products offered by a single manufacturer. Fewer (34.9 percent) are not part of a suite of products, but are, instead, interfaced with other medication-use system technologies; and 11 percent are stand-alone systems.

“Hospitals and health systems have many different technological solutions to improve patient care. But using a variety of systems that aren’t integrated may impact patient safety and lead to medication errors,” said Janet A. Silvester, president of ASHP. “Integrating and standardizing the complex information exchange to create one source for patient and drug information can reduce errors and increase the safety of our patients.”

The survey also found:

  • Nearly 18 percent of hospitals have inpatient computerized provider order entry (CPOE) systems and 54.2 percent of sites without CPOE systems plan to implement them within three years.
  • Twenty-three percent of hospitals use barcode medication administration (BCMA) to verify the identity of patients and the accuracy of medication administration at the point-of-care, and 56 percent without BCMA systems plan to implement them within three years.
  • Nearly 45 percent use at least some components of electronic medical records (EMRs).
  • More than 20 percent of hospitals have e-prescribing systems for outpatient clinic medication orders.
  • More the 80 percent of hospitals use automated storage and distribution devices in decentralized distribution systems.

Only 10 percent of hospitals use robotic drug distribution systems. Of that percentage, hospitals with 300 or more beds have a higher percentage of the systems than institutions with fewer than 300 beds.

The 124-question survey, sponsored by a grant from McKesson, is the first ASHP survey that focuses solely on technology use in hospitals and hospital pharmacies. The survey results will be published in an upcoming issue of the American Journal of Health-System Pharmacy.

ASHP is a 30,000-member national professional association representing pharmacists practicing in hospitals, health maintenance organizations, long-term care facilities, home care and other components of healthcare systems.