VAR Solves Pharmacy Documentation Problem With ASP Solution
VAR HealthProLink provides a 200-bed hospital's pharmacy department with an ASP solution to a clinical documentation problem.
VARs trying to sell technology solutions to healthcare clients are finally starting to make headway in this typically stingy vertical. To do so, VARs must have a solution that will save clients oodles of money and do so quickly. A two-year-old VAR named HealthProLink (Bellevue, WA) has figured out a way to do just that for hospital-based pharmacies.
Charles Westergard is VP of product development at HealthProLink, but more importantly, he is a pharmacist. Westergard helped design the company's software application, also named HealthProLink, which is delivered via an ASP (application service provider) model. "This is a data management and workflow application designed for hospital pharmacists who work out of the pharmacy on the treatment floors of the hospitals," Westergard explains. "These pharmacists need a better way of tracking their daily activities known as interventions." Westergard estimates that 60% of hospitals have no process in place for tracking pharmacists' interventions, medical errors, or adverse drug reactions. Of the remaining 40%, he expects 30% use some type of paper-based system and 10% are computerized.
Eliminate Tracking On Paper
Although HealthProLink usually gets leads from trade shows, in the case of one of its first clients, a 200-bed Midwest hospital, Westergard knew the hospital's pharmacy director. The hospital was collecting pharmacy intervention info on note cards and then entering the data into a spreadsheet. This process was obviously time-consuming, prone to errors, and offered limited reporting capabilities. Furthermore, the pharmacy director was being asked to justify the existing 15 pharmacists on staff. "The hospital's administration wanted to know exactly what all of the pharmacists were doing and how they were saving the hospital money," says Westergard. "In addition, governing bodies such as JCAHO [Joint Commission On The Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations] like to see hospitals practicing proactive medication error reporting." After a two-month sales cycle, the hospital gave HealthProLink the job.
Provide Point Of Care Documentation
The HealthProLink application enables pharmacists to use PDAs (personal digital assistants) to fill out forms about adverse drug reactions, medication errors, and clinical interventions. The latter includes activities such as developing a new drug dose regiment, checking allergies, and interchanging medications. The American Society of Hospital Pharmacy values these kinds of interventions at $67 each. The hospital equipped its 20 pharmacists with Handspring (Mountain View, CA) VISOR Pro PDAs. "The ability to document an event at the point of care increases the likelihood of that action being documented," Westergard states. "And in healthcare, documentation is everything."
For HealthProLink, there was no hardware or software to sell, just a site license fee that includes an unlimited number of Web users and a per-handheld-user fee. To set up a PDA to work with the HealthProLink system, users download ScoutSync setup software from Aether Systems (Owings Mills, MD). This software establishes a client to server connection. Once the Aether software is loaded, users push the PDA's hot sync button to link to the HealthProLink site and perform data exchanges. For example, any reports that have been added to a PDA are downloaded to the server. Also, any info the hospital's pharmacy director wants the staff to have is uploaded to the PDAs.
Triple The Pharmacy Interventions
"To get started, we generated a user ID and a password for the site administrator (e.g. pharmacy director)," Westergard says. "We sent training material and conducted a brief phone training. Once completed, the site manager could set up additional users on the system."
Before implementing the HealthProLink system, the hospital had a target of 200 interventions per month but was only averaging 90 per month for the previous year. After going live with the system in August of 2001, the number of interventions tracked has consistently climbed, and is now averaging 325 per month. Westergard says that due to the success of this particular installation, the hospital is rolling out the HealthProLink system at its 10 other sites.