pharmacy TECHNOLOGY news

APRIL 01, 2008

Health Care IT Spending to Grow

Information technology (IT) spending is expected to surge in the coming years, concluded 2 studies.

A significant portion of the health-IT spending growth will stem from state and local governments, particularly as the majority of them revamp their Medicaid management systems in the next 5 years. Health-IT spending from both sectors will increase to $10.8 billion in 2012 from only $6.9 billion in 2007, according to a report by the research firm Input.

Within the next 5 years, 29 of 35 states, plus Washington, DC, that outsource the operations of their Medicaid management systems will have those contracts up for review. Meanwhile, many of the 15 states that operate their own Medicaid management systems also will be looking for ways to enhance those systems, including the possibility of outsourcing those operations, according to report author Chris Dixon, manager of state and local industry analysis at Input.

Currently, the management of Medicaid systems includes a combination of computerized systems and manual processes. As states progress to more advanced systems, they will look to vendors that can implement technologies to improve the administrative end of Medicaid, said Dixon.

A second study, conducted by Datamonitor, suggested that widespread adoption of electronic health record (EHR) systems in North America and Europe will increase EHR spending in those areas from $4.4 billion in 2007 to $13 billion in 2012.

AERC Acquisition Allows for Advance in Data Disposal Inc recently announced the expansion of its secure data destruction and disposal operations. The expansion is a result of assets acquired from DynTek, a technology services provider.

The acquisition is part of an aggressive investment strategy that will allow Com- Cycle, AERC's wholly owned subsidiary and its electronics recycling business unit, to focus on the rising data security and recycling concerns in industries such as health care. Improper management of medical records and hazardous materials holds serious legal and ethical implications, resulting in heavy fines and penalties.

Peter J. Jegou, chief executive officer of AERC and Com-Cycle, said that the investment "provides a secure audit trail for compliance with HIPAA [Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996] and similar regulations."

"In industries such as health care, confidentiality and privacy are at stake. Protecting the confidential records of these companies—and their patients and customers—is of utmost importance. The new software program and end-of-market asset-management software offer new options for research centers, medical centers, hospitals, diagnostic laboratories, patient service centers, and health care clinics with concerns about data security and waste hazard risks," added Lindsay Landmesser, vice president of sales.

Study Tests Electronic Tools to Monitor Seniors? Meds

Researchers at the Meyers Primary Care Institute have started a project to test health-information technology tools as solutions to the dangers posed when seniors are discharged out of the hospital to primary care or to home.

The study's funding stems from a 3-year, $1.2-million grant from the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. The University of Massachusetts Medical School, the Fallon Clinic, and the Fallon Community Health Plan (FCHP) are collaborating on the project.

The study's purpose is to determine if systems based on electronic health records (EHRs) prevent adverse drug events, emergency room visits, and repeat hospitalizations. "We have come to the conclusion that it is really all the drugs that doctors and other health providers prescribe," said lead author Jerry H. Gurwitx, MD. "It is not just a certain finite list of medications that lead to problems. Mainly it is how drugs are used, how drugs are prescribed, how drugs are monitored, and how patients take them that can lead to problems."

The study will test the medication-reconciliation system on nearly 30,000 members of FCHP's senior plan who receive their medical care from the Fallon Clinic.

When members of the plan go to hospital emergency rooms or become hospitalized, their primary care physicians in some instances will receive e-mail alerts about changes in their medications and be notified when high-risk medications require further monitoring. Patients who make appointments also will receive alerts, and additional messages will be sent if the appointments or laboratory tests are cancelled.

The data will be assessed anonymously in order to track how many patients return to the emergency room or hospital and see how many of their physicians received special alerts.

ESC Helps Prevent Drug Counterfeiting

The Florida Agency for Health Care Administration recently implemented an electronic health record (EHR) for Medicaid recipients.

The test project will use medical claims data to create an EHR for each Medicaid beneficiary from the Tallahassee? Leon County, Florida, area. In time, the records will hold laboratory and radiology results and other key medical information.

The agency plans to go statewide with EHRs for Medicaid recipients following a review and analysis of the test. The Florida interChange system is scheduled to go live this year.