The University of California-San Francisco (UCSF) has made a significant announcement that could be a watershed moment for how medications are given to hospital patients in the United States.
In a typical hospital setting, patients are receiving many different types of prescription medications — ranging from mundane vitamins to more intense drugs such as chemotherapy. In the thousands of times medications are given to patients, and with the high number of humans handling the process of organizing and giving the medications, human error is bound to occur. And medication errors can be life threatening — especially if related to a chemotherapy agent.
UCSF wants to make the rate of error for medication administration to be zero. In order to do this, they are using robot technology to prepare and track medications, with the main goal, obviously, being to improve patient safety. In the phase-in of the project, not a single error occurred in the 350,000 doses of medication prepared — remarkable.
Once computers at the new pharmacy electronically receive medication orders from UCSF physicians and pharmacists, the robotics pick, package, and dispense individual doses of pills. Machines assemble doses onto a thin plastic ring that contains all the medications for a patient for a 12-hour period, which is bar-coded.
There are some key advantages this system brings to the workflow of a hospital setting:
— The robots can do chemotherapy dosing, one of the toughest and most sensitive things to do. They can also do complex IV medication dosing.
— There is no touching of the medications by hand. The medications come from the manufacturer, are processed by the robots, and then sent to the nurses and the patient’s bedside in sterile packaging.
— The robots allow for pharmacists and nurses to be more efficient by taking away repetitive tasks. While they do not replace either, they enable a healthcare system already stretched for resources to increase productivity.
— The system costs $15 million, but with the payoff in regards to improved patient outcomes, as well as time saved, the investment should make this endeavor by UCSF more than worthwhile.
Imagine walking into the room of a patient with ascites and pulling out your iPad (which you were just using to put in orders on another patient), pulling an ultrasound probe out of your pocket, connecting the two, and finding a fluid pocket from which to drain the abdominal fluid.
We’ve already shown how iPad’s can be useful in the OR. Now they, along with other tablets and smartphones, can be applied to bedside diagnostics and therapeutics to enhance patient safety while reducing costs. It’s a pretty exciting prospect being put forth by an mHealth startup called Mobisante. And having won awards at an MIT Enterprise Forum as well as the Mobile Health Expo, others certainly seem to buying in as well.
Mobisante, an mHealth company based in Redmond, WA, has recently been showing a new smartphone peripheral at conferences across the country: An ultrasound probe. According to the MIT Technology Review, the current prototype connects to a Toshiba TG01 smartphone and was originally developed as a laptop peripheral by David Zar, a computer engineer at Washington University in St. Louis. Read more »
Healthy People 2020, a continuation of Healthy People 2010, was started by the United States Department of Health and Human Services. It’s a nationwide health promotion and disease prevention plan that sets public health goals — with the deadline being 2020 in the latest iteration of the program.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is now launching a challenge for developers and researchers to make wellness applications for the Healthy People 2020 campaign — they are providing rich research data sets for free, some that can be found here, giving developers and researchers ample data to write applications with.
They are also providing a list of topics for potential apps from a variety of categories, ranging from apps related to cancer to substance abuse. Read more »
A new £5.7 million project being led by St. George’s-University of London is developing self-test devices that can plug directly into mobile phones and computers, immediately identifying sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).
The project is called eSTI — electronic self-testing instruments for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) — and is being led by Dr. Tariq Sadiq, senior lecturer and consultant physician in sexual health and HIV at St George’s-University of London. Most of the funding is coming from The Medical Research Council and the UK Clinical Research Collaboration.
The UK has seen a 36 percent rise in STIs from 2000 to 2009 — often blamed on the reluctance of the population to get diagnosed and the stigma of going to public health clinics — prompting the support of this project. Read more »
Imagine jogging, listening to music, and being able to keep track of your heart rate without needing a special watch or chest belt — common forms of attempting to monitor heart rates while jogging. Now, imagine not requiring any extra peripherals at all — just your iPhone and a special set of headphones that can monitor your heart rate.
Swiss technology-transfer company CSEM has created the final prototype for their Pulsear device. It’s a tiny device embedded in a regular earphone and it sends infrared signals through the tissues in your ear to see how fast your heart is beating. A photo diode records the results and sends the information to your phone via the earphone wires. Read more »
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