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  • December 02 2011


    There are a lot of critical players and components involved in the process of administering the right drug and dosage at the right time to the right individual – from the doctor who orders the medication, to the pharmacist that reviews and bundles it, to the nurse who administers it. As so many factors can be impactful to the patients’ safety, it’s critical to seamlessly integrate every aspect of giving and receiving a medication safely.

    Patient safety is the core component of a closed loop medication process, and there are numerous compelling advantages for implementing such a model. According to the Department of Health and Human Services, more than 1.9 million adverse drug events occur each year. This number speaks to the importance of ensuring facilities have safe medication practices.  By implementing a fully integrated medication process, the EHR becomes the single source of truth and enables safer medication practices and improved clinician workflow.

    We had the pleasure of interviewing Steve Kirsch, pharmacist and vice president for DeviceWorks and Steve Ward, pharmacist and senior director for EMR business strategy about this process:

    How is Cerner truly closing the medication loop and what solutions play a role in this?

    Steve Kirsch:We’re accomplishing this by integrating all the pieces involved in ordering, administering and delivering medication to a patient. From PharmNet to RxStation to CareAware Smart Pump Auto Programming, we have a plethora of solution offerings that inherently work together for a closed loop system. The integration between these solutions allows the electronic health record to act as the single source of truth.

    Many may be familiar with a graphic we use to represent our closed medication loop. We use this graphic often as it signifies how our solutions work together allowing the patient to be the center of the care they receive.

    How is the power of integration key to a closed loop medication process?

    SK: By having all solutions integrated on our Millennium architecture, we are simplifying communication for clinicians, which in turn enhances workflow, helps eliminate medication errors and ultimately allows clinicians to spend more time providing care to their patients. Clinicians are able to order, dispense and administer medications efficiently within their normal workflow. Integrating the medical devices that are part of these workflows with the EHR is also critical in creating a more seamless user experience.

    Describe what Cerner is doing to continue moving forward in enhancing safe medication practices for our clients?

    SK: At Cerner, we are always working to further enhance medication practices for our clients. Through device connectivity, we are able to further close the medication loop by connecting the EHR to devices that are essential to safe medication practices. An example of this integration is our work with pump vendors and our ability to provide a bidirectional feed of information directly from the medical record and device. CareAware Smart Pump Programming and Infusion Management allow clients to transform patient care at the bedside. This technology is improving communication between the pharmacy and nursing unit. The pharmacist now has more visibility through intuitive dashboards to monitor continuous IV medications being administered at the patient’s bedside.

    We also continue to actively engage and invest in our partnerships to enhance the medication process. We collaborate with medical device manufacturers to ensure relevant data from healthcare devices are captured and seamlessly delivered through CareAware. This is allowing us to further automate the workflow for our clients.

    With Meaningful Use being a large focus for many facilities, what is Cerner doing in this space to ensure our clients are meeting Meaningful Use guidelines?

    Steve Ward: Cerner is actively engaged in helping our clients meet meaningful use attestation. Through our consultative services we are able to provide our clients with readiness assessments, education and development plans to ensure they reach given requirements set for each stage of meaningful use. Cerner also offers an evaluation of reporting needs and identifies gaps in meeting meaningful use requirements for each client. As Stage Two is being developed we are continuing to monitor guidelines set and working with our clients to ensure they have a good understanding of what these guidelines mean to their organization.

    To date we have helped 355 facilities and physician practices meet Stage One attestation.

    Cerner will be exhibiting at the ASHP Midyear Clinical Meeting & Exhibition at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans December 4-8, 2011, booth #3021. Check out the video below to learn more about our closed loop medication process.

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