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6/12/2012
03:30 PM

10 Popular Pharmacy Information Systems

Healthcare providers need top-notch pharmacy information systems to safely deliver medications. Consider our overview of the top players.




In order for your hospital or group practice to keep patients safe and well managed, your pharmacy information system--also called a medication management system--must have several core functions, including in- and outpatient order entry, dispensing, and inventory and purchasing management. But in this age of integration, these systems must also connect to other systems within the enterprise, including an EMR, computerized physician order entry (CPOE), barcode technology, and smart IV infusion pumps.

In the past, providers had to choose between a stand-alone product from a best-of-breed vendor and a vendor that offered an integrated system. While the best stand-alone programs may provide automated medication-dispensing cabinets, barcode technology, and the like, most providers are nevertheless opting for an integrated approach.

"[Providers] want fewer vendor interfaces," Mark Neuenschwander, president of The Neuenschwander Company and cofounder of the unSUMMIT for Bedside Barcoding, told InformationWeek Healthcare. Neuenschwander said that it's easier for healthcare organizations if they pick an integrated system because they get everything they want--all the intelligence that assists in decision making--in their order system and in their filters. And at the same time, the program interfaces with their barcode scanning at the point of care and their medication dispensing cabinets. "I really think it is an integrated world," Neuenschwander said. "There are still some teaching [and] university hospitals out there that build their own systems, but that's the exception."

In this age of integration, what kinds of challenges do hospital CIOs face when helping pharmacy directors select a pharmacy information system? "There is the classic question of choosing a best-of-breed pharmacy application or one that is fully integrated with the EHR, medication administration suite, and other clinical system vendor-family solutions," said Helen Figge, a senior director of career services at the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS).

The former, said Figge, might provide enhanced feature functions to the pharmacy, while the latter is more integrated in data sharing with other modules that may aid other caregivers. "There again, another choice might be more integrated with pharmacy robotics, packaging and dosing solutions, or even a retail application/dosing solution."

Figge, who recently served as the chair of the Ambulatory Care Informatics Section of the American Society of Health System Pharmacists (ASHP), said that among the other challenges facing CIOs is selecting a pharmacy system that's well suited for pharmacists but that might not also integrate with CPOE and other MD-supporting systems.

With these complexities in mind, here's a look at integrated products from 10 of the top pharmacy information system vendors, based on HIMSS Software Market Share Results from April 2012.


IT personnel and pharmacists alike will appreciate the fact that Meditech's Pharmacy Solution system supports the full spectrum of medication delivery, including CPOE, medication reconciliation, e-prescribing, and barcoded medication administration. All the products share a single formulary, medication administration record, allergy record, and medication history, allowing all clinicians to base their decisions on the most up-to-the-minute patient data.

According to the company, medications are easily reconciled and converted across all care settings with no reentry required. Prescriptions are passed electronically to either the inpatient pharmacy or to outside retail or mail-order pharmacies, eliminating handwritten scripts. The software helps pharmacists reduce clinical errors with intelligent warnings, messages, and rejection notices; gain immediate access to clinical information from throughout the enterprise; access all relevant data from a single centralized processing screen; and minimize lost revenue with the option to charge on administration.

In addition, the system provides the ability to process medications from a single centralized process screen; a pharmacy dispensing system interface to maintain proper inventory levels; and a formulary service interface.

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Horizon Meds Manager is a comprehensive pharmacy information system that can improve pharmacy performance, provider workflow, and patient safety. It's an integral component of McKesson Medication Safety Advantage, offering integration with CPOE so the pharmacy can electronically receive, verify, and send medication orders, eliminating manual transcription and preventing medication errors.

According to McKesson, the system captures medication use across care settings and disciplines. It links all patient encounters in a real-time electronic chart.

Additional benefits include:

--Quick order entry and dispensing with universal protocols for medications, IVs, IV Piggy-back (IVPB) and total parenteral nutrition (TPN), and the seamless entry of multiple order types on a given patient

--Reduction of medication errors through integration with First DataBank's knowledge bases for compliance monitoring, drug dose checking, patient consultations, allergy screening, drug interaction screening, therapeutic duplication, and drug-disease interactions

--Better efficiency for pharmacists by freeing them from clerical tasks for more active participation in rounding and clinical tasks

--Reduced costs through features such as automatic therapeutic interchange, which automates the substitution of preferred formulary items based on dose, frequency, and route conversions.

RECOMMENDED READING:

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

Hospitals Lag In Computerized Physician Order Entry

Sloppy EHR Implementation Could Threaten Patient Safety

Planning for pharmacy information systems among US hospitals

EHRs Aren't Ready To Pay For Performance

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PharmNet, Cerner's pharmacy system, automates the clinical and departmental pharmacy processes and provides the foundation for a closed-loop medication administration process across the care continuum.

PharmNet is built on the unified Cerner Millennium architecture. This allows organizations to streamline the medication administration process. The system also links pharmacists, nurses, and physicians from the time caregivers order medication through its administration, ensuring efficiency, continuity, and safety. Pharmacists have the ability to access patient information, monitor patients around the clock with knowledge-driven alerts, share information directly with other caregivers, and provide a continuous pathway for patient care delivery.

Other key features include integrated clinical information at the point of clinical decision making and integration with Cerner's eMAR (electronic medication administration record). In addition, PharmNet connects to legacy systems, robotic and barcoding devices, medication dispensing systems, and total parenteral nutrition (TPN) compounders.

RECOMMENDED READING:

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

Hospitals Lag In Computerized Physician Order Entry

Sloppy EHR Implementation Could Threaten Patient Safety

Planning for pharmacy information systems among US hospitals

EHRs Aren't Ready To Pay For Performance

E-Prescribing Systems Still Finding Their Mojo

12 EHR Vendors That Stand Out

6 E-Prescribing Vendors To Watch


Willow is a key component of Epic's closed-loop medication ordering and administration process, linking pharmacists, ordering physicians, and nurses to a single medication order record. Willow allows pharmacists to monitor medication treatment and improve medical outcomes and patient safety.

Orders from EpicCare flow directly into Willow for verification and dispensing and also appear automatically on the system's electronic medication administration record (eMAR). According to Epic, Willow interfaces with pharmacy automation products for seamless dispensing. Also, pharmacy staff members have direct access to the full chart during verification. Combined with the software's decision-support abilities, pharmacists have the information and tools to actively intervene and avoid potential problems.

RECOMMENDED READING:

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

Hospitals Lag In Computerized Physician Order Entry

Sloppy EHR Implementation Could Threaten Patient Safety

Planning for pharmacy information systems among US hospitals

EHRs Aren't Ready To Pay For Performance

E-Prescribing Systems Still Finding Their Mojo

12 EHR Vendors That Stand Out

6 E-Prescribing Vendors To Watch


According to CPSI, its full system integration provides the pharmacist with access to patient data across all hospital disciplines on a real-time as well as a historical basis, resulting in an effective drug therapy tracking and monitoring system that's superior to an interfaced stand-alone platform.

Their system performs the following clinical monitoring checks:

--Drug-drug interactions

--Patient allergy monitoring

--Lab values

--Dosage range checking

--Duplicate therapy checking

--Intervention documentation

--Adverse drug reaction monitoring

Access to historical patient information provides the pharmacist with the information necessary to develop effective pharmaceutical care plans and detect any prior conditions that may warrant an intervention. According to CPSI, only a fully integrated system can provide this kind of immediate access to data, both real-time and historical.

The CPSI system features an accounts receivable integration that creates patient charges/bills as the pharmacist enters an order. It also boasts a materials management integration feature that reduces inventory and maintains statistics automatically. It includes an insurance integration feature that provides necessary insurance data as a byproduct of charging. Finally, the system has automatic charging and label production at order entry, and it calculates and prints IV expiration dates.

RECOMMENDED READING:

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

Hospitals Lag In Computerized Physician Order Entry

Sloppy EHR Implementation Could Threaten Patient Safety

Planning for pharmacy information systems among US hospitals

EHRs Aren't Ready To Pay For Performance

E-Prescribing Systems Still Finding Their Mojo

12 EHR Vendors That Stand Out

6 E-Prescribing Vendors To Watch




HMS Pharmacy, from Healthcare Management Systems Inc., is a fully integrated clinical information system that provides access to all vital pharmacy functions and supports a wide variety of practice settings. According to the company, the application offers clinical decision support, best practices, and workflow tools designed to advance the practice of pharmacy and evidence-based medicine, increase efficiency, and improve patient care and safety.

HMS Pharmacy's integration capabilities allow the free-flow of data into other HMS applications, including CPOE, eMAR, patient accounting, and clinical documentation, features that help support pharmacy best practices by providing timely access to vital signs, lab data, and other critical patient information. In addition, the platform can interface with all the leading drug cabinet vendors.

HMS Pharmacy can also improve patient safety with a closed-loop medication management system that ensures seamless coordination across the continuum of patient care. The application automatically monitors medication order entry through a comprehensive drug database and has multiple safeguards that support safety goals, including patient and medication identification with barcode scanning. Identification of the clinician also can be ensured via secondary authentication with biometrics.

RECOMMENDED READING:

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

Hospitals Lag In Computerized Physician Order Entry

Sloppy EHR Implementation Could Threaten Patient Safety

Planning for pharmacy information systems among US hospitals

EHRs Aren't Ready To Pay For Performance

E-Prescribing Systems Still Finding Their Mojo

12 EHR Vendors That Stand Out

6 E-Prescribing Vendors To Watch


Siemens Pharmacy provides comprehensive support for pharmacist ordering as well as distribution, clinical, and management activities. It helps healthcare organizations maximize pharmacy resources, improve departmental workflow, and ensure safe and effective medication therapy. As an integral component of the Siemens Medication Management Solution, Siemens Pharmacy provides features that support CPOE order validation, robust clinical decision support, and interdisciplinary communication to help clinicians optimize the entire closed-loop medication use process.

According to Siemens, its pharmacy system provides tools that the pharmacist can use to provide clinical conflict screening capabilities such as allergy checking and drug-to-drug interactions. It can also help improve communication from the pharmacy to the bedside and provide a common view of medication data between pharmacists and nurses.

Siemens says that its pharmacy system combines proven departmental and clinical tools to provide an enterprise-wide healthcare information environment. According to the company, the environment connects clinicians, administrators, and processes; simplifies workflow; and provides access to a unified patient record. The system helps providers reduce errors and miscommunications that can occur when departmental applications remain "siloed."

RECOMMENDED READING:

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

Hospitals Lag In Computerized Physician Order Entry

Sloppy EHR Implementation Could Threaten Patient Safety

Planning for pharmacy information systems among US hospitals

EHRs Aren't Ready To Pay For Performance

E-Prescribing Systems Still Finding Their Mojo

12 EHR Vendors That Stand Out

6 E-Prescribing Vendors To Watch


RxConnect interfaces with EHR products and provides features such as admissions discharges and transfers; order verification; administration messages from an eMAR; notification of pharmacy fill data to the eMAR system; and automated dispensing system support through HL7 2.3.1.

In addition, RxConnect provides transparency between pharmacy and enterprise systems. For example, it is fully integrated with the Avatar Order Entry and Avatar eMAR modules, providing a complete closed-loop medication management platform. In this scenario, an Avatar customer creates a medication order for a patient via Avatar Order Entry. The order is sent to the pharmacy and processed using RxConnect. When the staff administers the medication to a patient, Avatar eMAR passes the information back to the pharmacist. This integrated approach helps Netsmart customers meet the Meaningful Use criteria for funding eligibility under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA), which includes medication management and electronic prescribing requirements.

RECOMMENDED READING:

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

Hospitals Lag In Computerized Physician Order Entry

Sloppy EHR Implementation Could Threaten Patient Safety

Planning for pharmacy information systems among US hospitals

EHRs Aren't Ready To Pay For Performance

E-Prescribing Systems Still Finding Their Mojo

12 EHR Vendors That Stand Out

6 E-Prescribing Vendors To Watch


Sunrise Pharmacy, from Allscripts, is a full-featured pharmacy information system that provides hospital pharmacists with control over the medication management process. According to Allscripts, Sunrise Pharmacy improves quality and safety in the medication management process, provides for greater efficiency and productivity, and improves operational margins with smarter inventory control.

According to Allscripts, Sunrise Pharmacy is used by more than 100 hospitals to reduce medication delivery time and improve continuity of care and care quality. The Sunrise system integrates all workflows and processes related to medication management, including ordering, verifying, manufacturing, and dispensing. It also incorporates all interdisciplinary documentation and clinical data for the generation of pharmacy-specific rules, alerts, and reminders with clinical decision support. In addition, it supports various automation interfaces, allowing for different distribution models, and provides management features such as charging, reporting, and intervention documentation. That, Allscripts says, helps save time and control costs.

RECOMMENDED READING:

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

Hospitals Lag In Computerized Physician Order Entry

Sloppy EHR Implementation Could Threaten Patient Safety

Planning for pharmacy information systems among US hospitals

EHRs Aren't Ready To Pay For Performance

E-Prescribing Systems Still Finding Their Mojo

12 EHR Vendors That Stand Out

6 E-Prescribing Vendors To Watch




The folks at Mediware say that their flagship pharmacy management suite, WORx, caters to large and complex healthcare environments, including major healthcare institutions and large state behavioral health networks. WORx includes pharmacy controls to streamline workflow, automate inventory controls, and provide accurate and efficient medication management for the general safety of patients. According to the company, WORx is an open technology that operates with most major EMRs and interfaces with automated dispensing systems, robots, and related departmental systems. In addition, optional add-ons provide a complete, closed-loop medication system that includes electronic ordering, bedside medication administration verification, and automated medication reconciliation. Other key capabilities include longitudinal patient histories, inventory management, adult and pediatric specific controls, multi-facility support, and pharmacist-to-nurse communication.

RECOMMENDED READING:

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

Hospitals Lag In Computerized Physician Order Entry

Sloppy EHR Implementation Could Threaten Patient Safety

Planning for pharmacy information systems among US hospitals

EHRs Aren't Ready To Pay For Performance

E-Prescribing Systems Still Finding Their Mojo

12 EHR Vendors That Stand Out

6 E-Prescribing Vendors To Watch

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