Technology News

MARCH 18, 2012

Hospitals Can Now Track Antibiotics With CDC System

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is breaking new ground by electronically tracking hospitals’ use of antimicrobial medications using a new national system known as the AU (antimicrobial use) Initiative. The system is part of the CDC’s National Healthcare Safety Network.

The new system does not require a signifcant amount of work on the part of hospital pharmacists. Data on the use of antimicrobials can be automatically captured and reported from the medication administration record through clinical document architecture.

Hospitals are eligible to participate if using pharmacy software from a vendor that participates in the AU Initiative. The list of vendors is available online from the Society of Infectious Diseases Pharmacists at

The developers of the automated CDC system said that it reduces the potential for errors and diminishes a majority of the work. It also allows hospitals to compare their own data with nationwide benchmark information. Elizabeth Dodds Ashley, PharmD, MHS, BCPS, associate director for clinical pharmacy services and an infectious diseases pharmacist at the Univerity of Rochester Medical Center in Rochester, New York, said that her institution currently has no means to easily compare its data on antibiotic use with those at other institutions.

“If we’re having a problem with a certain infection or seeing a rise in the use of a particular agent, we wonder how we might change our antibiotic use to address that. It would be helpful to look at similar centers that don’t have such a problem, or who have resolved it, and see what they would do,” Dr. Ashley said. “But I have no great way of doing that right now other than calling colleagues and asking them, which is time-consuming and unreliable since we may not all use the same metric.”

Social Media And Cell Phones Help Deliver Health Care Information

Health care professionals and institutions continue to look for innovative ways to deliver health information. Novo Southeastern University’s College of Pharmacy may be onto something with its recent launch of the nation’s first Center for Consumer Health Informatics Research to deliver health care solutions through social media and cell phones.

The center’s mission is to make new health discoveries using consumer health informatics to improve health. The center plans to deliver health and wellness information such as tips to manage diabetes through social media and cell phones. It will also analyze whether health interventions on those platforms can better help patients manage chronic health problems.

“Patients are turning to the Internet in record numbers to look for answers to health-related questions and making treatments based on what they find. The center plans to use technologies to deliver information and help e-patients make better decisions,” explained Kevin A. Clauson, PharmD, the center’s director.

Research is already under way with a trio of mobile/cell phone health projects known as mHealth. These include a study to measure the impact of text messaging and health literacy on medication adherence in type 2 diabetes.

The CDC program will eliminate that variance because the automated capture tracks the antibiotics prescribed and exactly what dosages were administered.

Surescripts Research Finds E-Prescribing Could Save Billions

Surescripts recently announced study findings that quantify the relationship between electronic prescribing (e-prescribing) and medication adherence, with a potential savings of billions of dollars over the next decade.

The Surescripts analysis suggests that the increase in first-fill medication adherence combined with other e-prescribing benefits could help reduce health care expenditures by $140 billion to $240 billion over the next 10 years.

E-prescribing network Surescripts joined with pharmacies and pharmacy benefit managers to analyze de-identified data sets representing more than 40 million prescription records. The reviewers compared electronic prescriptions with paper, phoned, and faxed prescriptions.

The data showed a 10% increase in patient first-fill medication adherence among physicians who adopted e-prescribing technology when compared with physicians who did not use the technology. Physicians who adopted e-prescribing used the technology to route up to 40% of their prescriptions electronically during the time of the study.

Furthermore, the study showed that for every 100 paper prescriptions, 73.2% are delivered to the pharmacy and 69.5% are picked up by patients. The rate increased, however, when e-prescribing was used. For every 100 electronic prescriptions, 81.8% make it to the pharmacy and 76.5% are picked up by patients, according to the study.

“In a huge study, they [Surescripts] have shown a clear link between e-prescribing and first-fill medication adherence,” said William H. Shank, MD, MSHS, of Brigham and Women’s Hospital. “This speaks to the potential of technology to improve the efficacy of drug therapy, which ideally should promote better health outcomes and reduce costs.”

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