Technology News

Published Online: Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Phone Intervention Helps with Hypertension
For patients with hypertension, seeing improvements in their condition can be as simple as picking up the phone, according to a study published in Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes. A computer-based, automated feedback telephone system proved effective in heightening patients' awareness of their condition, as well as in helping to lower their blood pressure (BP).

Telephone calls were made at least weekly to study participants. Voice-recognition software requested each patient's most recent BP reading recorded at home, and then the information was passed on to the individual's physician and pharmacist. The clinicians were then able to take action if problems occurred with a patient's BP.

A total of 223 patients with hypertension from Quebec, Canada, participated in the study over the course of 1 year; 111 received the intervention, and 112 were in the control group. At the end of the study period, the 24-hour BP recordings done with a portable monitor showed an average reduction of 11.9 mm Hg in systolic BP and 6.6 mm Hg in diastolic pressure for those in the intervention group, compared with decreases of 7.1 mm Hg systolic and 4.5 mm Hg diastolic for those in the control group. In addition, 46% of patients who received the automated phone intervention met the US and Canadian definition for controlled BP, as compared with 28.6% of the control group.

Testing Standards Will Ensure RFID Does Not Interfere with Medical Devices
As radio frequency identification (RFID) technology becomes more and more prevalent throughout the health care industry, testing for possible electromagnetic interference with medical devices has become a priority. Although such testing has been done, no set guidelines exist. That is where AIM Global, MET Laboratories, and Georgia Tech Research Institute come in. The 3 groups have teamed up to develop testing protocols for RFID technology in health care facilities, as well as the technology's possible effects on implanted medical devices. The newly developed testing standards are expected to be submitted for FDA approval by December.

RediClinic Speeds Things Up for Patients
Innovative Card Scanning has installed its DocketPORT Scanning Technology in a number of RediClinic locations, a move that will make the clinics even more convenient for patients. Now operating in 21 RediClinics throughout Houston and Austin, Texas, the technology is also slated for future locations.

The system scans the patient's insurance card or driver's license upon arrival at the clinic in order to instantly create a secure electronic medical record. The files provide a reliable reference for the billing department, allowing for efficient and accurate information verification, as well as the correction of errors.

CPOE Prescription Inconsistencies and Their Risks
Discrepancies within computerized order entry prescriptions pose a considerable risk to patients, according to a recent study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine (May 25, 2009). Due to the format of computerized provider order entry (CPOE) systems, which contain a structured template and free-text field, the opportunity exists for inconsistencies within the same prescription. The researchers found that such miscommunications are a threat to patient safety, requiring improvements to the CPOE interface. For the study, pharmacists were asked to report prescriptions with inconsistencies over a 4-month period at a tertiary care facility. In addition, the researchers electronically retrieved all prescriptions with comments in the free-text field, and then randomly selected 500 for manual review in order to find possible inconsistencies between the free-text and structured fields. Although <1% of new prescriptions were found to contain discrepancies between the fields, about 20% of the mistakes could have resulted in moderate-to-severe harm, the researchers found.



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