South Jersey Healthcare wanted to improve patient care by providing critical data to medical professionals across multiple campuses. The healthcare system was using a labor-intensive medication-distribution model to share medication order data,
which often resulted in patients having to wait up to two hours for medication. To improve efficiency, South Jersey Healthcare replaced manual processes with an automated dispensing system from Omnicell that runs on the Windows Embedded Standard 7 operating
system. Because the solution shares information across multiple applications and devices, medical staff have better visibility into patient care and more control of their workflow. By using the automated solution, the pharmacy has cut delivery time for patient
medication from two hours to 18 minutes. In addition, South Jersey Healthcare can more easily meet electronic health record regulatory requirements, improve inventory control, and simplify IT management.
South Jersey Healthcare is a nonprofit healthcare system that includes hospitals, community clinics, and multiple specialized services. Based in Vineland, New Jersey, the healthcare system has approximately 3,000 employees, including 800 nurses.
||If we complete all the stages of the Meaningful Use act, we will gain $17 million for the healthcare system. We’ve completed the first stage with the Omnicell and Microsoft solution, and we’ve received about $2 million so far.
| Tom Pacek
Vice President and Chief Information Officer
South Jersey Healthcare
South Jersey Healthcare wanted to improve patient care by easing access to information maintained in multiple systems, including medical records, pharmaceutical inventory, and billing. In particular, the healthcare system sought to improve the way pharmacies
dispensed medication to patients. South Jersey Healthcare was using a labor-intensive distribution model based on fulfilling orders through a central pharmacy. On average, it took a patient two hours to receive medication from the time a physician placed an
order until a pharmacy technician delivered it. Joe Alessandrini, Assistant Vice President for Clinical Services at South Jersey Healthcare, says, “We asked nurses what they wanted, and we heard loud and clear that they wanted medication as soon as possible
for their patients—a traditional delivery system did not meet the needs of our organization.”
New regulatory requirements also put pressure on the healthcare system to improve data flow. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 included provisions for healthcare providers as part of an economic stimulus package. The new Health Information
Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act, also called “Meaningful Use,” requires healthcare providers to improve patient care by adopting electronic health record (EHR) technology.
The HITECH guidelines ask healthcare providers to use EHR technology certified for security, data confidentiality, and the ability to exchange information between multiple systems such as patient records and pharmacies. In addition to improving patient care,
regulatory compliance offered a financial advantage: providers who meet the requirements for meaningful use can qualify for grants from Medicare and Medicaid EHR incentive programs.
There were other financial incentives to handling information more efficiently: South Jersey Healthcare hoped that by sharing data better electronically it could improve workflow and cut costs. “There is a business challenge involved in trying to get medications
up to the floors and nurses faster” says Tom Pacek, Vice President and Chief Information Officer at South Jersey Healthcare. “Pharmacy resources come at a premium, and having a pharmacist continuously available was not cost-effective in the long run.”
However, integrating multiple systems in a hospital setting can be more challenging than in a typical business environment. Instead of working with office programs and a few line-of-business applications, South Jersey Healthcare needed to connect more than
a dozen specialized applications and multiple medical devices. “There is no one vendor out there who is going to sell you everything,” explains Pacek. “We will always work with niche applications in addition to medical devices that aren’t owned by software
Ensuring security of patient records and medication was another top priority.
“Security is critical,” says Pacek. “Everything we do has to be audit-trailed, and we have to ensure that people are not accessing medications without authorization.”
Above all, the healthcare system wanted to ensure that nurses could care for patients more efficiently. “Security is essential, but it can’t impede the workflow process,” says Alessandrini. “You have to strike a balance and keep security invisible to the
Because the dispensing process is central to healthcare it touches multiple applications and data sources between the patient bedside and the pharmacy. South Jersey Healthcare turned to Omnicell, a provider of automated medication-dispensing solutions, to
help design a more intelligent system. South Jersey Healthcare began deploying the vendor’s automated medication- dispensing cabinets in 1998 and then decided to upgrade to the new G4 medication-management platform from Omnicell, which runs on the Windows
Embedded Standard 7 operating system.
South Jersey Healthcare became an early adopter of the solution in a pilot project with Omnicell in October 2010. The G4 dispensing system with Windows Embedded offered South Jersey Healthcare multiple advantages, including easy interoperability with device
drivers and applications. The G4 platform is also one of the few automated dispensing systems to earn EHR certification, an important consideration in meeting meaningful use requirements.
South Jersey Healthcare also knew the intelligent system would ease administration. Instead of maintaining stand-alone medical devices, IT staff could manage the dispensing cabinets in a networked environment. “The Omnicell system can be maintained just
like any other device on the network now that it’s on a Windows Embedded platform,” says Pacek. “So it’s easier to support from an IT perspective.”
The Omnicell cabinets are part of an interoperable system powered by Windows Embedded that includes multiple application and data sources such as patient records, physician prescription software, the pharmacy system, and the hospital billing program. The
system could also connect with external solutions such as a national health-records database in the cloud. “Cloud-enabled access will allow patients, providers, and payers anytime, anywhere access to medical information” Pacek says. “The power of the cloud
is secure availability. It provides redundancy and reliability that most organizations could not afford to have in-house.”
As a result, physicians would be able to better care for patients whose care began outside their network. Jennifer Cartright, Director of Product Development at Omnicell, says, “If you talk to industry analysts, the eventual goal is to have centralized,
cloud-based access to data so that wherever you are, healthcare providers will have the information necessary to treat you.”
In addition to connecting to applications and networks, the Omnicell solution powered by Windows Embedded connects with multiple medical devices that South Jersey Healthcare uses to improve security and patient safety, including barcode scanners, label printers,
and enhanced biometric scanners. For example, nurses can sign in with their fingerprints and use the barcode scanner to verify medications stocked in and removed from the Omnicell cabinets, thereby reducing potential medication errors. And instead of handwriting
labels for medication, nurses automatically generate a patient-specific label when they remove medication from the Omnicell automated dispensing cabinet. As a result, they minimize the possibility of medication-administration errors associated with unlabeled
or mislabeled products.
Nurses are also using the intelligent system to improve workflow. With the Omnicell Anywhere RN application, they can go online from virtually anywhere in the hospital—including patient bedsides—to request medication and plan their medication-administration
schedule. “Nurses can quickly request medications from any networked device when they’re still with a patient,” says Cartright. “Then they can go to the automated dispensing cabinet, and the medication is waiting for them. The process avoids interruptions
that are commonplace in the hospital environment and that can lead to medication errors.”
The pharmacy controls inventory more easily and accurately too by being able to check supplies and track distribution in real time. Hospital pharmacists can also go online to remotely review medication orders anywhere in the healthcare system. For example,
hospital pharmacists can review orders placed at remote locations throughout the network, eliminating the need to have pharmacists on staff at all locations.
South Jersey Healthcare plans future enhancements, including designing a closed-loop solution with Omnicell and Siemens, a clinical information partner. “We can improve patient safety just by interfacing two systems,” says Alessandrini. “The Omnicell G4
platform with Windows Embedded has given us some opportunities that we didn’t have before.”
By improving data flow with an Omnicell and Microsoft solution, South Jersey Healthcare has improved patient care, strengthened regulatory compliance, and gained better control of its pharmaceutical inventory. The networked solution is also easier to upgrade
Cuts Medication-Distribution Time by 85 Percent
South Jersey Healthcare is enhancing its services with an intelligent medication-distribution system. “The interoperability that we gain with Windows Embedded is a huge benefit,” says Pacek. “Having the ability to share data across multiple applications
and devices gives us a complete view of the patient and what’s happening at any given time.”
Nurses have more control of their workflow and, as a result, can improve patient care. “Our nurses have become owners of the Omnicell and Windows Embedded solution,” says Alessandrini. “They take a very active approach in working with the pharmacy to ensure
that all transactions are completed in a timely manner. The average turnaround time for delivering medication to patients has been reduced from two hours to 18 minutes.”
Strengthens Regulatory Compliance
By using the Omnicell and Microsoft solution, South Jersey Healthcare is also on track for meeting HITECH regulations. It has already met the first stage of Medicaid requirements. “As we lose funding in other areas because of healthcare reform, we need to
take advantage of available grant money,” says Pacek. “If we complete all the stages of the Meaningful Use act, we will gain $17 million for the healthcare system. We’ve completed the first stage with the Omnicell and Microsoft solution, and we’ve received
about $2 million so far.”
Improves Pharmacy Management
South Jersey Healthcare is also managing its pharmacy more efficiently. The healthcare system has grown rapidly since it opened its Regional Medical Center in 2004, and the pharmacy currently dispenses 726,000 medication doses per month through its automated
system. Alessandrini says, “By 2011, we had more than doubled the amount of medication dispensed from our pharmacy without adding a single full-time employee.”
South Jersey Healthcare has streamlined its pharmaceutical inventory from U.S.$505,000 to $340,000. It has also significantly improved inventory turnover since 2004, from 13 to 34 turns annually. “The industry standard for inventory turnover in a pharmacy
is 12 to 18 turns each year,” says Alessandrini. “We’re doing two to three times that much with the Omnicell and Microsoft solution, which means that we have less money tied up on our shelves, and we’re gaining revenue faster.”
Simplifies IT Administration
IT management is also easier. In the past, upgrading a medication-dispensing cabinet usually meant replacing the entire device, which could be both costly and time-consuming. Now, South Jersey Healthcare can manage the devices as part of its IT network and
make incremental, affordable improvements by upgrading software or replacing components such as the CPU.
The healthcare system reports that it can perform software updates in less than 30 minutes. “One of the things that we really like about being on this platform with Omnicell and Windows Embedded is the ability to upgrade,” says Pacek. “We can update the
operating system to take advantage of new capabilities and features, and we’re able to do that in a more hands-off, remote fashion than we’ve been able to do in the past.”
Windows Embedded extends the power of Windows and the cloud to intelligent systems. Encompassing operating systems, tools, and systems and services, Windows Embedded enables enterprises to generate tangible, real-time benefits with anytime, anywhere access
to executable data. Microsoft entered the embedded marketplace over 15 years ago and continues to lead the evolution toward intelligent systems with an extensive suite of technologies for enterprises across a variety of industries. For more information go
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