Software helps hospitals deal with narcotics theft

May 22, 2006

Pandora Data Systems recently released a multi-user, HealthInsurance Portability & Accountability Act (HIPAA)-compliantversion of its medication usage analysis software. Designed in 1989in partnership with a local pharmacist to be used in conjunctionwith his Pyxis 1000 automated dispensing system (ADS), the currentversion of Pandora is compatible with the Pyxis 3000 and theMcKesson AcuDose and Omnicell dispensing systems as well.

Pandora Data Systems recently released a multi-user, Health Insurance Portability & Accountability Act (HIPAA)-compliant version of its medication usage analysis software. Designed in 1989 in partnership with a local pharmacist to be used in conjunction with his Pyxis 1000 automated dispensing system (ADS), the current version of Pandora is compatible with the Pyxis 3000 and the McKesson AcuDose and Omnicell dispensing systems as well.

Dan Vineyard, a customer advocate for Pandora, noted that Pandora reports are evidentiary grade reports that organizations such as the Food & Drug Administration, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Drug Enforcement Administration, and Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations can request by name. State pharmacy and nursing boards also request documents generated by Pandora, he said.

Data analysis is important for catching diverters, according to Sophis. While there is other drug diversion software available on the market, Pandora's version allows virtually unlimited data storage, whereas some competing products store data for only 30 days.

Patty Womack, Pharm.D., the lead clinical pharmacist at the Community Hospital of San Bernardino in California, commented, "The big advantage with Pandora is that it makes sorting through data very easy," she said. "We have been using Pandora for three to four years. Before that, any evidence of drug diversion was largely anecdotal."

Once those who remove more medication than others from the ADS have been identified, Pandora provides the tools needed to investigate where those drugs are going, said Vineyard. "Pandora is good at uncovering the many different methods diverters use. For example, every discrepancy that gets resolved must have a witness. Often addicted professionals work together by witnessing each other's resolutions and then splitting the drugs."

Cree explained that Pandora has a discrepancy manager. "Once you have flagged persons with anomalous usage, you can start to look at their discrepancies and determine if the resolutions are acceptable and if discrepancies are indeed one of the routes by which they divert."

Pandora allows users to detect and document diverters at any level of responsibility within the hospital, said Cree, because the software can be installed facilitywide. He also said that it has the ability to automatically generate and send different reports to selected users. So, for example, financial reports can be sent to the chief financial officer and discrepancy reports can be sent to nurse managers.

Cree said the scope of these reports allows for a broader delegation of responsibility to a wider range of people, and the more people who are involved in preventing diversion, the more effective their efforts are.

Prior to Pandora, pharmacy directors were solely responsible for detecting drug diversion and acting upon it, Cree continued. He said that by providing nurse managers and other department directors with data for the professionals they supervise, Pandora becomes an accountability and delegation tool in the hands of pharmacy directors.

"Pandora software is a huge saver of time, money, and manpower," Sophis concluded. "This is significant, because drug diversion is more common than most people want to believe."

THE AUTHOR is a writer based in New Jersey.