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1/26/2011
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New Tools To Help Hospitals Prevent, Spot Infections

Web-based clinical data surveillance services from Pharmacy OneSource aim to help clinicians identify infections, adverse drug events, and other trouble sooner.

With the Centers of Medicare and Medicaid Services expected to begin reducing reimbursements to some hospitals next year for potentially preventable readmissions of certain patients, healthcare providers are looking for better ways to spot signs of patient trouble sooner.

Adverse drug event and infection detection and prevention are among activities that hospitals are paying closer attention to, said Kaj Pedersen, chief technology officer of Pharmacy OneSource, a provider of software as-a-service healthcare applications to about 1,300 U.S. hospitals in an interview with InformationWeek.

To address those needs, the company will be expanding its offering of Web-based, clinical surveillance services, he said.

Pharmacy OneSource's Web-based Sentri7 clinical surveillance platform captures data from disparate systems within a hospital and analyzes the data through rules based engines to help identify potential problems, alerting appropriate clinicians.

Via VPN communication and using an HL7 integration engine from InterfaceWare, Pharmacy OneSource takes in real time data feeds from multiple sources within hospitals, including admission and discharge, electronic medical record, pharmacy, surgical, and vital sign systems. That data is analyzed in a rules-based engine that can either be preconfigured or customized.

Currently, the company offers services based on its Sentri7 clinical surveillance system that provides hospital pharmacists and clinicians with real-time decision support analysis tools to identify, for instance, adverse drug events, including early possible signs that a medication isn't working effectively for a particular patient.

"If drugs aren't working, appropriate adjustments need to be made," said Pedersen.

But in the near future, Pharmacy OneSource is planning to expand its surveillance services -- offered as a package or developed for individual clients -- that could also help hospitals identify potential or early cases of infections, including sepsis, a serious systemic infection that can become deadly, Pedersen said.

The analysis of data from patient monitoring systems, labs, EMRs, and other sources could in real time spot a combination of factors, such a sudden change in patient body temperature and other clues, that could indicate the onset of sepsis or another serious development, such as a hospital acquired "super bug," he said.

"We're working with several clients to demonstrate the efficacy" of such surveillance, he said.

Currently, Pharmacy OneSource processes and analyzes daily 3.25 million HL7 messages that come from 1,300 hospitals that support about 200,000 active patients. That data is "run through 9,000 rules," he said.

The company is planning to upgrade its IT architecture to support up to 10 million messages a day to handle the growth in demand for its expanding services, Pedersen said.

"There's a new focus on infection prevention in healthcare," he said.

Hospitals are facing a number of challenges, including a scarcity of key clinical expertise, reduced payments from payers such as Medicare and Medicaid, drug-resistant bacterial infections, "and mortality rates that are too high," he said.

"Hospitals need to find ways to reduce readmission rates," Pedersen said.

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