Information Technology (IT) has progressed by leaps and bounds in the
last decade and today, it can easily save your life or the life of your
loved one if you or your family member has to be hospitalized for any
reason. Not only can healthcare IT save your life but your money, too.
wrong medication can easily kill you. You might know you are allergic
to a medication and have input that on your patient information forms.
There might be a known medication interaction between two medications
provided. Unless these facts are compared and taken into account, it is
very easy for the wrong medication to be provided in a healthcare
Doctors and nurses are only human. They work long hours;
often working double shifts during crises. They get tired; their eyes
become weary and they are frequently rushing from patient to patient.
Even when well-rested and refreshed, mistakes can be made because these
professionals are simply human and no human is perfect. Even with the
best training, it is possible to misread a doctor’s instructions,
medication allergy information, or the name or dosage of a drug on the
often small-print labels. The potential for error is enormous, at best,
when human eyes and hands are the only method for dispensing medication
to patients in hospitals or other healthcare settings.
well-known example which received a lot of press was the incident with
Dennis and Kimberly Quaid’s twin babies. These tiny infants were given a
dosage of Heparin which was 1,000 times the dosage ordered, and while
they recovered, death was a clear possibility. There were not the only
patients overdosed with this medication. They were just the famous ones
that received press.
The solution to this life-threatening problem
is added safety measures but no patient wants to pay the added cost of
having multiple sets of human eyes check every single instruction and
medication. Plus, even with two or three sets of eyes, the possibility
of error remains.
So, how are you, as a patient, to be assured you
are getting the correct medications while paying the least amount of
money? The answer will sound simple but the actual implementation is
quite complex. For this reason, let’s look at the simple,
easy-to-understand reason why healthcare IT helps assure your health and
save pocketbook, too.
Computers do not get tired; they do not
become distracted by the phone call from the children’s school or other
personal problems. They are, today, perfectly capable of reading
medication labels accurately every single time by use of barcodes. Once
told of an allergy or possible medication contraindication, the computer
never, ever forgets or fails to compare the medication about to be
provided to you, the patient, with these facts. And, this process is
accomplished within nanoseconds rather than valuable minutes of a
Once medication is dispensed by the healthcare IT
medication control solution, the computer bills your insurance carrier
or adds the medication to your self-pay account. Instead of having many
pieces of paper and many hands processing this information, it is
handled efficiently and instantly. The right patient is billed for the
right medication in the correct amount. The errors historically made of
healthcare bills are reduced to virtually zero.
At the same time,
the inventory of the medication is reduced by the amount which has been
dispensed and, when the inventory becomes sufficiently reduced, a flag
is raised and an order generated so that an order is generated for the
supplier to deliver more. This way, human error does not result in
shortages of critical medications.
The many legally required
reports regarding dispensing of medications — especially controlled
substances which help you deal with post-surgical or post-injury pain
and suffering — are generated. These reports once required hours or
days to produce.
It remains true that your healthcare
professionals must input your patient information into the healthcare IT
system correctly in order for these safeguard to work properly, but the
time consumed by this process is only minutes compared to the hours
eaten away in past decades by paper-trails and hand-dispensing of
Healthcare IT systems are now being deployed into
physicians’ and other healthcare professionals’ offices because they
work just as well when prescribing medication to be dispensed at your
local pharmacy as when dispensing medication in a hospital.
these healthcare IT solutions require a substantial initial investment
to put into place, the long-term savings to patients is enormous. More
importantly, the peace of mind you gain when hospitalized or being
treated by a healthcare professional is vast. Just consider what is your
life worth when a single medication error could kill you!
Muhammad Siddiqui is a focused Healthcare IT Architect and
Project Manager with over 12 years experience in healthcare interface
solutions and clinical applications. With a proven track record
delivering HL7, X12, HIS, LIS, PIS client/service and distributed system
architectures, as well as cross-vendor systems utilizing Cerner,
Mediware WoRx, Eclipsys, GE Centricity, Epic, Allscript, Meditech, CPSI
and SunQuest in some of the top U.S. hospitals, he continually stays on
the cutting edge of healthcare IT developments. He also holds an MBA in
Business as well as many computer hardware and software certifications.