Technology has taken hold in nearly every aspect of day-to-day life, even when it comes to healthcare. Increasingly, physicians are forgoing traditional paper forms and opting for a streamlined digital approach.
 
A new survey conducted by the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP) found that technology that improves medication use have been implemented in nearly all hospitals in the United States. The broadly-implemented technologies include electronic health records (EHRs), computerized prescriber-order-entry (CPOE) systems, and barcode-assisted medication administration systems
 
Included in the ASHP National Survey of Pharmacy Practice in Hospital Settings: Prescribing and Transcribing—2016 were 392 hospitals based in the United States.
 
The authors report that such technologies allow pharmacists to increase medication safety and provide the best possible patient care. The implementation of the technology has also resulted in a significant shift to paperless healthcare.
 
The authors found that an overwhelming 99% of hospitals in the United States use EHRs in 2016 compared with only 31% in 2003, according to the study.
 
The use of CPOE systems have also increased, with only approximately 1% of hospitals using paper-only health records in 2016 compared with 69% in 2003. Additionally, 38% of hospitals used paper prescriptions in 2008, while fewer than 3% used them in 2016.
 
The authors also indicated that nearly 93% of hospitals are currently using barcode medication administration systems.
 
“In addition to improving medication safety, the increased use of information technology shows great potential for pharmacists to spend more and more time providing comprehensive medication therapy management in and across all settings of patient care,” said ASHP CEO, Paul W. Abramowitz, PharmD, ScD, FASHP. “These positive findings move us closer to achieving ASHP’s vision that medication use will be optimal, safe, and effective for all people all of the time.”
 
The authors report that the strong shift towards the technology was a notable finding.
 
“These developments clearly have the potential to improve access to clinical information to all caregivers and provide a platform for clinical decision support that offers safety alerts in real time,” the authors wrote.
 
The authors also investigated the pharmacist’s role in transition of care, which is a time that can lead to medication errors and fragmented care.
 
The survey found that nearly 75% of pharmacists and pharmacy technicians referenced medication history at hospital admission in 2016, up from 54% in 2012, according to the study. Pharmacist medication counselling also doubled from 2012 to 2016.
 
The survey provides an overall view of how pharmacists are involved with managing medication use.
 
“The ASHP National Survey continues to be instrumental in identifying pharmacy practice trends in the United States. It helps quantify where hospitals stand with adoption of automation and technology, and other practices related to pharmacy and medication safety,” said author Douglas J. Scheckelhoff, MS, FASHP, senior vice president, Office of Practice Advancement at ASHP. “The survey results are valuable to health-system pharmacy leaders, allowing them to compare their programs and services to national averages.”