The Current State of Medication Management
The science behind modern medications is always evolving and always progressing. We see that in the news with new treatments, cures, and prevention methods for all sorts of illnesses and conditions. The downside of this wondrous science is the complexity of the medications that need to be administered. Many patients have been through phases where they’ve missed their medication doses, lost track of when they last took their medication, or have taken their medicine incorrectly because of the complex physician instructions. The science of healthcare is exact, but when that science depends on human memory and routine to succeed, it can lead to issues and complications.
At the point of care, dealing with the logistics of handling a variety of medicines and providing dosages to patients can sometimes be overwhelming and time-consuming. These situations cause medication errors and thus a rising mortality rate, increase in hospital stays, and higher medical expenses. These add up over multiple patients in a whole healthcare organization or network to huge costs and negative outcomes. We know medications can work but with so many variables at play, it’s crucial to get every step of medication administration correct to best support patient health outcomes.
The Need for Medication Management Technology
A survey from the Association of Medical Directors of Information Systems reported that over 90% of Chief Medical Information Officers (CMIOs) believe medication management initiatives positively impact patient safety. However, it was found that there is a 45% risk of error across all these medication management processes, which could range from minor issues with no real tangible impact on the patient. But these errors could cascade into serious errors that could put the patient at risk.
With the integration of clinical services and medication management technologies, the healthcare sector is transitioning from a paper-based medication prescription and administration model to a comprehensive medication management system. This includes integrating technology into every step of the medication delivery, tracking, administration, and management system. Many of the concerns from healthcare professionals around the gaps in medication management without technology have to do with data flowing and collecting properly. By fully digitizing the medication management process, these struggles and concerns can be alleviated.
How Does Medication Management Technology Work?
Automation in medication management solutions and software is giving healthcare staff more face time with patients, provision of right dose of medicine to the right person at right time, and increasing medication adherence for patients with overall quality of service. Assessment of patients, medication reconciliation, prescribing, dispensing, and monitoring are the fundamental steps involved in these systems resulting in value-based care at reduced costs. For example, integration of electronic health records (EHRs) of patients with the medication device at their bedside allows medication parameters from the EHR to be pre-populated into the device based on patient characteristics thus reducing the chances of programming errors.
Many global companies (such as Becton Dickenson, Omnicell, Philips, Swisslog, GE Healthcare, and McKesson) have developed various types of medication management systems such as:
Automated/robotic dispensing systems/cabinets for handling, distributing and dispensing medications and supplies in hospitals and retail pharmacies
Medication management systems that interface and integrate with point-of-care information systems and provide rapid access to patient information and facilitate documentation
Embedded analytics software to monitor drug diversion and avoid redundant inventory management issues
Centrally located medication-management systems that replace or improve a manual system for filling unit dose carts
A new generation of AI-powered medication management systems with predictive analytics and machine learning are playing a key role in identifying and addressing the root causes of medication non-adherence. Systems that use a machine-based learning model can identify outliers in prescriptions from a pool of patients with similar characteristics and detect potential medication errors and logistics processes over time and prevent those errors from recurring. Using such AI-based systems, clinicians are also able to proactively detect potential side-effects of drug combinations or controlled substance overdoses at the prescribing stage, during medication administration and when patients move between health care settings. Leading healthcare organizations have deployed next generation analytics platforms to deliver actionable insights integrated into their EHR clinical workflows to empower their executives, clinicians, and nurses at the point of care (POC).
Patient-centric care is possible across the continuum of care with the use of these IT-integrated medication management systems that evaluate the dynamics of patients’ clinical, medication and related administrative information. A great collaboration is established between the patients, care teams, pharmacies and payers in the medication decision process.
Healthcare facilities and organizations should embrace and deploy medication management systems integrated with smart technologies as the focal point of their patient care. The ultimatum for the healthcare industry is to get the right medications to the right patients at the right time for the right condition while decreasing the burden of costs incurred.
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