par Sean Ruck
, Contributing Editor | February 21, 2012
From the January/February issue of HealthCare Business News magazine
In last year’s interview, you pointed out that grocery stores have been more advanced with barcode technology than hospitals for about 30 years. I know barcodes are in extensive use for hospitals in the newborn wing, but have things changed elsewhere?
Barcodes are common in that area — you can’t ask a baby his name. But, beyond that, I think the technology was adopted very quickly there because hospitals looked at places where the risk assessment showed a problem. There aren’t many other ways of ensuring identity in that case unless you keep fingerprints and keep checking fingerprints, so it makes sense that it’s common there. But, when you think about the administration of medication in a hospital, it happens how many times a day? Well, making sure that the right drug is going to the right patient in the right dosage at the right time has four major opportunities for human error. But, it’s not one of the places where hospital organizations universally have identified that risk and have adopted barcode strategies. So it’s a technology that has found its application in very logical places but is still lacking in others.
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Bringing the wrong baby home, although less common, may get more attention from the press, but in terms of patient impact and cost, medication error is a far higher liability.
Are medical schools at the forefront for IT to properly train students that they’re matriculating?
Very much so. Your academic medical centers are generally speaking, among your larger institutions, generally your best endowed in terms of contributions and reserves. They’re the ones with the resources historically able to invest in technology, so as a result, academic medical centers have as their mission not only to treat patients but to train doctors. So the doctors coming out are expecting to find that technology in places they will work. That’s going to be a factor in recruitment, which is a competitive aspect of the industry. They are coming out with knowledge and experience using good technology tools.
A high technology – high performing organization is going to be an attractive place for younger clinicians to work. A facility that isn’t at that level of technology faces a negative in terms of recruitment.
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