Emerging technologies driving the evolution of healthcare

One of the “silver linings” from the continuing challenges of the coronavirus pandemic has been the realization that we need to change the way we think about our processes, and consider new and innovative strategies to improve them. One area that has received a lot of attention, which will continue in 2023, is the development and use of technology to improve processes and delivery of care.  

The World Health Organization (WHO) defines health technology, as the “application of organized knowledge and skills in the form of devices, medicines, vaccines, procedures, and systems developed to solve a health problem and improve quality of lives.”  

For 2023, pharmacy will be a part of this medication-use technological expansion. We are excited to share some examples of emerging companies and new technologies to watch out for. 

AI with Invistics: Drug Diversion

Invistics is applying machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) to the challenges of drug diversion. A study published in AJHP details the benefits of using this technological approach as opposed to more traditional detection methods. In the study, 10 acute care inpatient hospitals across four independent health systems extracted two datasets from various health information technology systems for comparison. The machine learning model had 96.3% accuracy, 95.9% specificity, and 96.6% sensitivity in detecting transactions involving a high risk of diversion using the initial sample dataset. In subsequent testing, using the much larger historical dataset, the analytics detected known diversion cases in blinded data faster than existing detection methods (a mean of 160 days and a median of 74 days faster).

Tula Health Smart Watch: Type 2 Diabetes

Tula Health is transforming the care of Type 2 diabetes. The company currently provides a smart watch that captures a variety of outputs such as exercise, blood pressure, heart rate and sleep patterns. They also offer a smart phone/glucometer combination where patients can enter their glucose levels and communicate with their health coach at the touch of a button.  All this information is provided real-time to a health coach who is available 24 hours a day to work with the patients to optimize their diabetes control. Tula Health has shown improved use of primary care providers and decreased use of emergency and hospital services, which has reduced costs in their target patient populations by up to $3,000 per patient per year. 

The company is also adding some amazing technology to this system. Working with the physics department at Brigham Young University, they have miniaturized a full-size spectrometer to the size of a dime. They have also successfully created an impedance algorithm that only reads moving items, effectively filtering out skin and tissue and reading only blood. Inserting the miniature unit into the smart watch provides the ability to capture real-time, continuous blood glucose levels without finger sticks, which could be a “game changer” for diabetes management when the technology becomes commercially available.

Pharmacy Stars Smart Glasses: Medication Inspections

Pharmacy Stars is working with Iristick, along with the pharmacy team at Houston Methodist, on the use of “smart glasses” to improve the efficiency of medication inspections. In addition to its IV Quality Management System, called Compounding 360, Pharmacy Stars also offers a Joint Commission inspection tool. They can load the inspection tool into the smart glasses so the pharmacy technicians who are conducting inspections receive a “heads-up display” of all their required inspection items. The technicians can quickly and easily check off needed items and use the glasses to take a picture of any out-of-compliance elements. All this information is downloaded directly from the glasses into the Pharmacy Stars tool to produce a report of the inspection, thus saving significant time. Additional use of the glasses for observation of technician sterile compounding technique to allow for remote monitoring and remote facility inspections is also planned.

Vitae Industries 3D-printing: Compounding

Vitae Industries Auto Compounder gives pharmacies the ability to 3D-print drug dosage forms.  The unit utilizes ready-to-dispense NDC-coded cartridges filled under cGMP (503b facility) containing standardized non-sterile compound formulations as source material. The unit can be programmed for drug strength and quantity to make a variety of customized dosage forms like gummies, troches, or suppositories quickly and accurately.  

Emancro Robtics Corp. Robots: Dispensing Automation

Emancro Robotics Corp. is working on a fully autonomous robot that can be utilized for functions such as picking drugs in the central pharmacy to fill automated dispensing cabinets (ADC) and/or the actual filling of the ADCs themselves. The robot’s secure locker is filled with medication in the hospital’s central pharmacy. It can then visit desired locations in the hospital, restocking medication and updating inventory autonomously. The robot can scan bar codes and operate elevators and electric doors. It is also designed to handle all dosage forms.

Audaire Platform: Clinical Outcomes Data

Audaire Health Inc (“Audaire”) is a healthcare technology company with a mission to increase patient access to high-cost lifesaving medications, deliver impactful clinical programs and facilitate innovative outcomes-based contracting models. Audaire’s platform captures high quality clinical outcomes data outside of the claims infrastructure, which provides full visibility into the efficacy of gene and cellular therapies. By leveraging clinical outcomes data, the Audaire platform facilitates greater flexibility in contracting for high quality clinical outcomes and deploying impactful clinical programs.  

These are just some examples of what we can look forward to in the near future. 2023 looks to be an exciting time for emerging technologies to further develop and reach the marketplace. At Visante, our pharmacy informatics and technology practice group is helping clients invest in and optimize technology to improve financial performance and clinical outcomes. Contact us to learn more about how we can support your organization’s goals in 2023. Email solutions@visanteinc.com.

5 Key Takeaways from ASHP Midyear 2022

Dave Hager

The American Society of Health System Pharmacist (ASHP) Midyear meeting returned in-person in 2022, back to Las Vegas where it was when we last left off prior to the COVID pause. While the usual rodeo fans were present – we also got a heavy dose of football fans with a Sunday home game. Visante’s top 5 hard hitting topics coming out of ASHP Midyear 2022 are:

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion – It was clear this was a focus for presenters and for attendees through the conference as many seek to grow personally and invest organizationally. Sessions ranged from creating affirming environments within your organization to individuals’ personal journeys to and culturally effective care. It was clear that there was intentionality not only to focus on racial diversity, but to include additional areas such as disability and LGBTQ+ as well.

Drug Diversion – In another significant change from previous years, there was several sessions focused on drug diversion. Often only considered after a major event, the significant investments needed to tackle this complex problem were highlighted across multiple sessions. These focused not only on advanced software, but the policy and governance structures needed to support a comprehensive program.

Technician Workforce – Workforce challenges remained a hot topic, with a much more positive tone compared to recent ASHP conferences where the focus seemed more on the opportunity in front of us. Several presentations highlighted successes in improving the technician pipeline through establishing training programs, novel residency programs focused on growing future technician leaders and developing advanced technician roles in areas such as informatics.

Employee Retention – The pharmacy workforce is clearly in transition and was the talk not only in sessions but in the hallways. Attendees in new roles has always been a topic, and it seemed at a higher level in 2022. Unsurprisingly, this carried over to the sessions, with a number on growing resilience – including in leaders – to practical solutions like skip level meetings and employee recognition programs to redesigning work itself in work from home models. It is clear ASHP members are working hard to keep their greatest assets, their team members.

Health Care Finance – Lastly, it is clear ASHP members wanted to “follow the money” as there were significantly more financial literacy sessions. Focused sessions on payment models in healthcare and upcoming payment changes in 2023 stood out. As health system pharmacy departments are leaned on more than ever before for entrepreneurial ideas – and given the financial pressures on health systems across the country, this was unsurprising.

Visante team members thank all the colleagues they were able to connect with for their time during ASHP Midyear. It was great to see you all and look forward to connecting again soon!

Here at Visante, we help hospitals and health systems to make the most of their programs and optimize savings. Contact us at solutions@visanteinc.com to talk to one of our team members.

Visante Chief Pharmacy Informatics Officer and SVP, Joe Lassiter, was a featured guest on “Staying Current in Healthcare, Information and Technology: Perspective from Pharmacy Leaders” podcast from ASHP. Listen in to Joe’s perspectives on the essential and expanding role of pharmacy informatics and technology and his advice for a successful and meaningful career.

 

 

Healthcare is technology today.

From the health-monitoring aspects of Apple Watches and smartphones to the electronic health records within health systems themselves, healthcare has firmly become synonymous with technology.

Yet despite this fact, only about 50% of IT projects are successful, when the success of these initiatives is crucial to fostering high-performing organizations.

This is where pharmacy informatics and technology (or PharmIT) can serve a vital role in developing innovative solutions to health system medication-use challenges. Here is a look at what PharmIT is and how it can improve outcomes for hospitals and health systems throughout the country.

What is Pharmacy Informatics and Technology?

PharmIT is a subset of health informatics, and is an umbrella term encompassing everything to do with medication use management, informatics, and health information technology. PharmIT contributes to the transformation of healthcare by analyzing, designing, implementing, maintaining, and evaluating information systems that improve medication-related outcomes.

Why Do Hospitals and Health Systems Need Pharmacy Informatics and Technology?

High-performing pharmacy organizations need a high-performing PharmIT program.

One important aspect of PharmIT is analytics. Health systems not only need more data and information – they also need to be able to aggregate and visualize it to determine the best way forward.

When organizations are looking to implement a new service like home infusion or specialty pharmacy, technology needs to serve as the backbone of those initiatives in order for them to work to the best of their ability. Unfortunately, the internal IT services for many health systems are stretched thin, with 80-90% of their time being dedicated to maintenance. This leaves minimal time for new projects.

PharmIT – specifically when leveraged through an expert partner like Visante – can help make up for this lack of time and resources by focusing on three key areas: applications, automation, and analytics.

Applications

Applications within PharmIT can be described as any software program used to help achieve the clinical, operational, financial, or safety goals of the health system. Electronic health records are a great example, serving as the main application or operating system (OS) of a given hospital.

Automation

PharmIT can also help hospitals and health systems automate repetitive tasks and free up time by making previously menial tasks much more efficient. This allows clinicians to practice at the top of their license rather than focusing on time-consuming and repetitive work.

Analytics

We live in a world of data overload, with too much information and not enough time to review it and use it to inform decision-making. Analytics helps bridge this gap to make better decisions in a fraction of the time. PharmIT is an invaluable tool for helping aggregate info, visualize it, and then utilize it to make decisions.

Technology

Beyond the three key areas of PharmIT is the technology itself, which can be described as anything used to deliver patient care within an organization. One example is smart IV pumps, which are a piece of technology with an application. In this case, the technology itself is used to make it safer and more efficient for nurses to provide care.

People, Processes, and Outcomes

It is important to note that applications, automation, and analytics are only one side of the equation when it comes to PharmIT. To maximize impact, we also have to focus on the people, processes, and outcomes of a given technology.

Here are some of the key questions to ask in regard to how technology will impact your health system.

People

  • Do we have the right people in place to use, maintain, and optimize this technology?
  • What is their skillset?
  • Will we save time by implementing this technology?

Processes

  • How will we utilize this technology?
  • What are the preferred workflows?
  • What are the policies and procedures we need to put in place to utilize this technology to its highest benefit?

Outcomes

  • Why are we utilizing this technology?
  • What are we hoping this technology will help us achieve?
  • Does this technology align with the tactical and strategic objectives of the organization?

Experience the Full Potential of PharmIT with Visante

Visante has acquired The Robertson Group (TRG) to add pharmacy informatics and technology to its service line. Together, we help clients optimize clinical systems to provide safe, effective, and efficient patient care. Our goal is to transform healthcare through pharmacy practice.

To do this, we must transform the technology solutions that will help us get there. We optimize solutions to make sure our clients are getting best and most effective use of them. We make sure these solutions are safe, effective, efficient, economical, and that they will help health systems achieve their tactical and strategic objectives.

Contact us today to learn more.

Join Jim Jorgenson, MS, RPh, FASHP, CEO, as he discusses The Pharmacy Stars Enterprise QMS platform and Visante’s suite of compliance tools that help hospitals and health systems “work smarter not harder”.

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