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Back Beat

April 17, 2007
by root
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Survey Says: Communication is Key to Health

The results of a survey designed to assess pharmaceutical manufacturers' and physicians' views on patient-physician communications have been announced by Woburn, Mass.-based InfoMedics.

The survey — conducted by PharmaVOICE — found:

  • The biggest benefits of improved patient-physician communications involving a specific brand were perceived to be improved treatment outcomes (87.5 percent) and increased medication adherence (73.6 percent).

  • The majority of respondents (74.6 percent) saw medication noncompliance as an ongoing significant issue to be addressed by the pharmaceutical industry in 2007.

  • 67.7 percent rated their intent to address patient compliance issues in 2007 as extremely or very important.

PWC: US Quality Healthcare Movement Stalls

Jim Henry

A recent study conducted by New York-based PricewaterhouseCoopers found that the quality of the US healthcare system is not what it should be, and is not likely to change within the next three to five years.

The report concludes that after two decades of efforts to improve the quality of healthcare, momentum has stalled at a critical juncture. The analysis finds healthcare organizations are confused by multiple quality mandates and frustrated by mounting requirements for quality performance reporting in the absence of government standards or industry consensus.

"We are losing the equivalent of a jumbo jet full of patients every day due to preventable medical errors," says Jim Henry, global industry leader for the healthcare practice at PricewaterhouseCoopers. "Health organizations are still working in silos at cross purposes, and they are as far apart on quality today as they were five years ago."

Automating Prescription Drug Prior Authorization

Nancy Stalker

San Francisco, Calif.-based Blue Shield of California has been awarded the Chief Technology Officer Award for implementing an automated prescription drug prior authorization software system, by FileNet, an IBM company. According to Blue Shield, the software system called AutoAuthSM, automates the drug prior-authorization process, making it easier for consumers to obtain prescription medications.

AutoAuthSM is used to streamline the process for coverage decisions involving drugs that require prior authorization. FileNet claims the system delivers quicker results by improving drug prior-authorization requests.

"Blue Shield is committed to improving the prior authorization process," said Nancy Stalker, vice president of pharmacy services.

Cancer Care Ontario and Infoway Team Up

Cancer Care Ontario and Montreal-based Canada Health Infoway are expanding the use of tools that aim to reduce medication errors, improve efficiency in the delivery of cancer care and facilitate communication within care provider teams.

The cancer-specific computerized physician order entry (CPOE) system, operated by Cancer Care Ontario claims to enable physicians to directly order chemotherapy and related drugs electronically and minimize potential and harmful medical errors such as handwriting interpretation and dose calculations.

The system also provides doctors with alerts regarding appropriate dosage and alternative medications. It can alert clinicians to duplicate therapies, potentially dangerous drug interactions and drug allergies for specific patients, while still adhering to best practice guidelines from a provincial level.

Joint Commission Looks at Nursing Measures

The Oakbrook Terrace, Ill.-based Joint Commission will begin a comprehensive test of nursing-focused performance measures to determine whether they can be used nationally to identify opportunities to improve the quality of patient care provided by nurses.

The project is being funded by a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

The integrated set of measures for hospitals address patient outcomes, nursing-centered interventions and system factors related to quality and safety. Testing during the next two years will examine whether the measures are reliable and feasible for use in hospitals, as well as the impact of the measures, when used together, on the safety and quality of care. The measures are endorsed by the National Quality Forum (NQF).

Practicing Medical Procedures on Dummies

Mary Cantrell

Arkansas Children's Hospital recently opened a new pediatric simulation education center that will allow students, physicians and other medical personnel to polish their skills in near reality scenarios before putting them to use with actual patients.

Inside the Arkansas Children's Hospital Pediatric Understanding and Learning through Simulation Education Center, or PULSE Center, medical personnel will sharpen their skills by performing procedures on computerized, life-like mannequins that feature compressors that allow them to breathe, and tubes that can simulate blood flow and administration of IVs. The physicians and students will also interact with lay people who are trained to portray patients and their families, allowing trainees to practice how to communicate when they actually are in emergency or exam rooms.