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There's More To Patient Safety Than 'Meaningful Use'

One medical center's new hospital includes medication management and other systems that go beyond meaningful use.

This is an especially busy time for Orange Regional Medical Center in Middletown, N.Y. Not only because of the government's upcoming meaningful use deadlines, but also because it's gearing up to open a new hospital.

In fact, the Orange Regional Medical Center, slated to open in August, is the first new hospital to be built in New York State in about two decades. The 600,000-square-foot, 383-bed facility is the result of a merger nine years ago of Arden Hill Hospital and Horton Medical Center.

Those two older facilities now are being consolidated into the new medical center, which folks from Orange Regional say is "taking the best practices of both campuses and creating the most patient-friendly, efficient and technologically advanced hospital possible."

For Orange Regional, "the most important thing is providing affordable, quality healthcare to the community," said Dr. Shafiq Rab, VP and CIO of Orange Regional Medical Center.

That mission includes improving patient safety and reducing medical errors through health IT, such as EHRs and computerized physician order entry—both of which are specified in the government's stage 1 meaningful use criteria. But other key technologies being rolled out at the new "paper-light" medical center aren't spotlighted in the meaningful use requirements, including automated medication management, said Rab.

Last year, a medication management system from Omnicell was rolled out at the Arden and Horton hospitals. The Omnicell Anywhere RN system will also be in the new medical center, letting nurses remotely and wirelessly review and select medication orders from computers on mobile nursing carts and at hospital workstations. Using the system, patient medication orders can be quickly queued up for dispensing, reducing wait times.

Omnicell cabinets will allow about 90% of medications to be safely secured on patient floors. Barcode scanning at the patient bedside ensures that the correct patient is receiving the right drug and dose at the right time, while identifying the nurse who's administering the medication.

"This decreases medication errors, improves efficiency," Rab said. Meaningful use stage 1 requirements spell out the need for healthcare providers to maintain patients' drug allergy and active medication lists and to use computerized physician order entry or electronic prescribing for ordering patient drugs, Rab said.

But the deployment of other technologies, such as bedside barcode scanning, and other drug-safety tools, while not part of the meaningful use requirements, are a major component of Orange Regional's effort to improve patient care.

"It's about making the right decisions to minimize drug errors during dispensing and administration processes," Rab said. "All these efforts improve patient quality of care."

So, while meaningful use is getting most of the attention at many healthcare facilities, it isn't the only way to improve care. That's happening on many different fronts and with a lot of different technologies, as Orange Regional shows.

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