New systemwide med ordering product eliminates lost orders

September 17, 2007

McKesson company officials said the Horizon MedComm-Rx product has proven it eliminates lost orders and significantly reduces processing time.

Horizon MedComm-Rx allows nurses to scan or fax physician orders directly into the pharmacy work queue. Using bar-code recognition, it automatically associates an incoming order with the appropriate patient profile. Pharmacists can view order images and process them according to priority, said Jakopin. It supports more than 10,000 orders a day, he said, and features dual-screen viewing stations.

As a safety feature, the product's patient verification feature provides alerts when the wrong patient profile is pulled into the pharmacy information system. It also tracks the history of every order, providing an array of reports and allowing hospitals to identify trends, said Jakopin.

Beta-testing established that the Horizon MedComm-Rx can cut processing time by as much as 90%, according to company officials. "It dramatically cuts medication order turnaround time. From the point when a nurse transmits the order to when the pharmacist receives, verifies, and fills the patient medication, it can reduce turnaround time to less than five minutes," said Jakopin.

"It does work well, actually," said Steve Lubke, R.Ph., pharmacy services director at Shannon Medical Center in San Angelo, Texas. "I don't know about 90%, but it definitely reduces order processing significantly. It integrates well with our other McKesson products and actually has some very good features." His 400-bed health system began beta-testing Horizon MedComm-Rx last October, finishing this May. A feature that Lubke particularly likes is that pharmacists share the same prioritized view of the work flow queue, creating an even work distribution, "something we had difficulty achieving before this product," he noted.

The product operates on an existing hospital information network, using industry standard hardware components and the Windows XP operating system at pharmacy and nurse workstations. It uses Windows 2003 on the Horizon MedComm-Rx database server.

Purchasers can choose either scanner or fax capabilities, or both. It integrates into the Horizon Meds Manager, resulting in a single application for pharmacy information system and order entry. It also integrates with McKesson's Automation Decision Support.

Orders can be returned from a centralized pharmacy to any sending unit or hospital or clinical pharmacist for clarification. If clarification is needed, pharmacy staff can select a reason from a preconfigured drop-down list or comments can be typed directly on the order before returning it to the nursing unit.

That's a feature that Shannon's Lubke described as particularly valuable, especially because the MedComm-Rx can be configured to post lab results with a medication order. "If there are questions about an order, our pharmacists communicate instantly with the other pharmacists or with the nurses," he said. "We can promptly address anything that is out of whack."

Pharmacist alert

Pharmacists are alerted whenever a nurse overrides a patient's profile to dispense medications from McKesson's AcuDose-Rx unit-based cabinets, allowing the dispensing decisions to be recorded in the pharmacy information system. And MedComm-Rx notifies the pharmacy of missing medications in AcuDose-Rx cabinets to enable quick resolution of out-of-stock situations.

Another valuable feature is that the product allows telepharmacy through remote network access, said Lubke. "We've had some trouble finding night pharmacists for some of our locations," he said. "This allows us to cover our night shift with virtually no morning backlog."

The MedComm-Rx also offered a workplace bonus in another, unexpected way, said Lubke. "Our phones used to ring all the time with calls for changes and corrections," he said. "It's now very, very quiet in here."