National Health IT Week: Three Interoperability Solutions for Medication Dispensing

For the 10th anniversary of National Health IT Week, HIMSS went all out. From using the dedicated #NHITWeek and #IHeartHIT hashtags on social media to the policy summit taking place in the middle of the week, to events surrounding the recent ICD-10 go live, stakeholders at all levels of the health system are being encouraged to discuss both the headaches of health IT and its promises for the future.

Healthcare IT has significantly evolved in the last 10 years since the first NHIT Week. It is during this period that the concept of interoperability between different vendor systems really took off. According to a study from the Gary and Mary West Health Institute, improving interoperability between medical devices and electronic health records (EHRs) can help save hospitals more than $30 billion a year.

In light of National Health IT Week, we want to share some of the interoperability strides that Omnicell has made in recent years in connecting our medication dispensing system with electronic health records. This integration, illustrated in this video, simplifies medication management for nursing and leads to improved patient care.

Interoperability with Cerner

The Cerner electronic health record was first integrated with Omnicell automated dispensing cabinets in a development spearheaded at Billings Clinic in Billings, Montana in 2013. Beyond the simple fact that hospitals such as Billings seek to continuously evolve and improve on existing technology, there was a specific workflow motivation for this innovation.

Before, nurses would have a computer for accessing the patients’ EHR next to the automated dispensing cabinet so they could cross-reference the two systems. This manual process was not only redundant and decreased nurse productivity, but it increased the opportunity for error.

The Omnicell-Cerner interoperability allows for nurses to preselect medications they need within the EHR, and then have the medication ready to pick up from the dispensing cabinet later.

They can also view medication availability and document waste directly from within the Cerner system.

By reducing the number of steps to complete medication administration tasks, this integration allows nurses to spend more time delivering care at the bedside.

Interoperability with Epic

First implemented at Hackensack University Medical Center (UMC) in Hackensack, New Jersey, the interoperability between the Epic EHR and the Omnicell dispensing cabinets was announced in April 2015. The goal for Hackensack UMC was to improve nursing workflows and reduce the potential for error, ultimately impacting patient safety and care.

Omnicell is the only automated dispensing system vendor to offer remote medication selection and waste documentation from within the Epic Hyperspace EHR.

The functionality is similar to the integration developed with Cerner. With a single login nurses can preselect medications to be removed from the cabinet, check availability of medications in the cabinet in real time, and even document waste from the interoperable EHR.

Interoperability with Siemens

By linking data about medications issued from the Omnicell automated dispensing cabinet with medication administration records in the Siemens Med Administration Check system, pharmacy can easily identify variances. This closed-loop interoperable solution with Siemens improves accountability and saves time for pharmacy and nursing.

Key Benefits

Interoperability involving medication automation systems delivers key benefits for health systems:

  • Enhanced safety: Consistent, up-to-date information available across systems helps to eliminate potential confusion and reduce medication errors.
  • Increased efficiency: Cuts out redundant data entry and need for end users to access multiple systems for information.
  • Clearer insight: Enhanced reporting facilitates better business decisions, reduces drug diversion opportunities, and improves documentation required for compliance.
  • Reduced costs: Greater efficiency along with reduced need for IT involvement and infrastructure lowers costs.

You can read more about Omnicell’s interoperability solutions here.

Please share with us some of the benefits you’ve achieved through interoperability in recent years, or what you hope to see happen in the next year (or ten!).

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