This system pegs value of pharmacy interventions

January 23, 2006

In an era in which large, hospitalwide information systems have become increasingly popular, Pharmacy OneSource (formerly Healthprolink) has taken the opposite tack. The Bellevue, Wash.-based company has seen steady growth of its Quantifi product, a clinical documentation and reporting tool for pharmacies only.

In an era in which large, hospitalwide information systems have become increasingly popular, Pharmacy OneSource (formerly Healthprolink) has taken the opposite tack. The Bellevue, Wash.-based company has seen steady growth of its Quantifi product, a clinical documentation and reporting tool for pharmacies only. The company said it has gone from about 250 facilities in 2003 to nearly 1,000 today, driven by interest in the company's focus on the pharmacy rather than on the health system as a whole. In addition to offering patient care data that allow tracking of adverse drug events and prescribing errors, the system is designed to make it simple to calculate the value of pharmacist interventions, boosting the ability to track what changes pharmacists are making-and how they affect the bottom line.

The system has been in place for over a year at the 400-bed Alexian Brothers Medical Center outside Chicago, and clinical pharmacy manager Lisa Reidel, Pharm.D., said the impact has been so significant that even drug sales representatives have noticed. "Our IV-to-PO ratio dramatically changed," she said, "to the point where the drug rep walked in and asked 'What are you doing?'"

Reidel has encouraged the 22-pharmacist staff to use the system to document a range of interventions, with rewards going to the employees documenting the most interventions or saving the most money. And the pharmacists see an additional benefit, said Reidel: The system makes it simple to report the amount of clinical work being done by the pharmacists, giving her easy-to-share metrics about pharmacist performance to present to hospital administrators. In addition, the system has made it possible to quickly examine adverse drug reactions and errors, she said. "I can drill down into exactly what happened.... It's really helpful with the patient safety committee."

Prior to implementation of the Quantifi system, documentation at Alexian was difficult for pharmacists to perform and even harder to analyze. "What we were using was a system that our IT system had built," Reidel explained. "I was looking for something we could really replace that with. Pharmacists were recording on paper. We were six months behind because we didn't have data entry people."

Furthermore, she went on, the value of the data is amplified by being able to be shared, making Quantifi's Web-based interface particularly attractive. "We needed a database to bring everyone together when we talk about adverse drug events, when we talk about medical errors, and when we talk about pharmacist interventions," she said. "We needed everyone able to access to the same data." With Quantifi, she said, that's now possible.

And while moving to an automated system altered the workflow of the pharmacists, Reidel indicated that training staff on the system did not create a strain. "It wasn't very difficult for me at all. The system is very user friendly."

In the multibillion-dollar market for healthcare information technology, Pharmacy OneSource remains a small player, but officials at the company said their focus on a single area gives them an advantage over their larger competitors.

Most hospitalwide information systems, such as those from Cerner or IDX, have pharmacy modules, but Pharmacy OneSource president Tim Gibbons said those systems tend to emphasize patient safety measures rather than applications that can improve pharmacy management. "We're focused on pharmacist data," he said.

The system has attached a monetary value to a host of interventions, from drug reaction interventions to therapeutic interchanges, that offer a value-added service to centers that use the product.

"The information that is documented and captured during the documentation process, particularly the value of the intervention, is something that you don't typically have in that hospitalwide information system," said Keith Streckenbach, the company's executive VP of business development.

Gibbons said that because of the focus on intervention, the system is especially beneficial for pharmacies that are focused on careful analyses of drug use. "The more clinical the pharmacy, the more it will maximize value."

THE AUTHOR is a writer based in Virginia.