The use of health IT has exploded in the last decade, and that means better health care.
Electronic health records (EHRs), computerized prescriber-order-entry (CPOE) systems, and barcode-assisted medication administration systems have now become almost universal in hospitals nationwide.
According to the “ASHP National Survey of Pharmacy Practice in Hospital Settings: Prescribing and Transcribing - 2016,” nearly 100% of hospitals across the United States have adopted these technologies.
Survey results reveal that the use of health IT by hospitals has led to a rapid increase in “paperless care.” According to the survey, 99% of hospitals across the country currently use EHRs, compared to about 31% in 2003. The use of CPOE systems by hospitals has also increased. Over the past 13 years, the number of hospitals that use paper-only patient health records has declined from 69% to 1%. In 2008, about 38% of hospitals used hand-written medication orders; in 2016, fewer than 3% of hospitals use hand-written orders. In addition, almost 93% of hospitals in 2016 use barcode medication administration systems, according to the survey.
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ASHP CEO, Paul W. Abramowitz, PharmD, said in a statement that, in addition to improving medication safety, the increased use of information technology shows great potential for pharmacists to spend more time providing comprehensive medication therapy management in and across all settings of patient care. “These positive findings move us closer to achieving ASHP’s vision that medication use will be optimal, safe, and effective for all people all of the time.” Abramowitz said.
Survey authors concluded that the speed at which EHR systems and technologies have been implemented by hospitals was notable, and that the developments clearly have the potential to improve access to clinical information to all caregivers and provide a platform for clinical decision support that offers safety alerts in real time.
The survey also evaluated pharmacists’ contributions to patient care activities during transitions of care. Data indicated that pharmacist and pharmacy technician use of medication histories at admission increased from 54% in 2012 to nearly 75% in 2016. Pharmacist-provided medication counseling at discharge more than doubled, from 22% in 2012 to 45% in 2016.