Previously we’ve talked about two key strategies to help ease the burden on hospital and other healthcare workers with smart technology strategies. In this quick article, we’ll continue that exploration with a look at further optimizing healthcare operations with strategies that our hospital clients are using to help automate and error-proof their medication administration and specimen tracking.

As we turn the corner on the COVID-19 pandemic, one of the key lessons we’ve learned is that we need to find ways to create safer, more efficient and more effective care. And we need to do it with a focus on making the job of healthcare easier for doctors, nurses and other medical staff.

Fortunately, there are many great opportunities to achieve this with proven and highly cost-effective technology strategies, and two of them involve medication administration and specimen tracking. Our healthcare clients who have implemented these strategies are seeing fantastic results in terms of boosting their operational efficiency, eliminating potentially dangerous medical errors, and making the job of managing patient medications and lab work much easier for their staff.

Let’s take a look at these two strategies and how they’re making a difference for providers.

Medication Administration

Past studies have shown some alarming error rates for medication administration in inpatient hospital settings, with clinical error rates as high as 25% in some observed cases. Things get even worse when nurses are interrupted during medication administration, which has been shown to increase procedural errors by 12.1% and clinical errors by 12.7%.

To improve the efficiency and accuracy of medication administration, it’s absolutely critical to automate and error-proof the process so mistakes like these don’t occur, even if busy nurses are interrupted. The best way to do this is by using a barcode-based eMAR system that helps ensure that nurses have matched the right patients to the right meds, at the right doses.

The right system brings together eMAR and barcode scanning in a simple and mobile solution that nurses can use on the go and with medical charts. For example, you can load a mobile version of your eMAR on a touch mobile computer for easy access, so you can scan patient ID wristband barcodes and match them to scanned barcodes on medication labels to validate correct matches.

Using an automated and barcode-based system like this has been shown to significantly reduce medication administration errors. In fact, a New England Journal of Medicine study found that it reduces non-timing errors in medication administration by 41.4%, potential adverse drug events by 50.8%, and the rate of timing errors by 27.3%.

To deliver eMAR solutions to our clients, we typically work with Zebra Technologies, a global leader in mobile healthcare technologies. Zebra’s TC52-HC healthcare-grade mobile computer is a great device to use for mobilizing your medication administration since it offers octa-core processing power, expanded memory, and the latest high-speed Wi-Fi technology to run apps seamlessly while also delivering voice and video calls, secure texting, and even push-to-talk services and access to PBX phone lines. You can also use it to capture 1D and 2D barcodes on patient ID wristbands, medication bottles, medical supplies, or anything else you might need to track, match and verify.

Alternatively, you can use a tablet-based mobile computing solution such as Zebra’s ET51 tablets, which deliver outstanding computing performance and have built-in scanning capabilities in their own right. As another option, you can pair your mobile device with a small companion barcode scanner such as Zebra’s CS60-HC, which is a corded or cordless device that’s small enough to fit into a pocket. It captures 1D and 2D barcodes quickly and reliably, every time, and it even has a purpose-built housing and crevice-free surface to protect against the spread of bacteria.

Specimen Tracking

The importance of error-proofing and accuracy is certainly not limited to medication administration. It’s also crucial in specimen tracking and lab management, where timing, efficiency, and accurate matching of specimens and samples to the right patient are critical to proper diagnoses and treatment.

Similar to medication administration, to enable more efficient and accurate specimen tracking, you need to have technologies and software in place to automate the matching of collected samples to the right patient and create end-to-end tracking of specimens from collection and pickup to delivery, lab analysis and beyond.

Typically, we recommend using a mobile and desktop software solution to track specimens and match them to the right patient. But a good solution should also automate and optimize your pickup, delivery and courier management with real-time scheduling, tracking, chain of custody, and status updates for lab managers and medical staff. If labs are off-site, these solutions can even provide real-time GPS tracking and routing to ensure your specimens are transported along the most efficient routes, so they can be analyzed on time.

If you need recommendations for potential solutions, our team at Ahearn & Soper can help, and we can also recommend healthcare solutions from our partners at Zebra, to label, identify and track every specimen from the patient’s bedside to the lab.

In particular, Zebra’s healthcare-grade mobile printers and compact desktop printers for medical carts are a great way to print labels on-demand, wherever they’re needed. And Zebra has specialized labels for use on glass vials, metal and rounded surfaces, blood bags, and other containers you might use to collect and safely transfer specimens.

Exploring More Technologies to Optimize Your Healthcare Operations

To find out more about technologies and strategies you can use to simplify clinical workflows, streamline and error-proof your patient care processes, and minimize the burden on healthcare providers, connect with us at Ahearn & Soper for more insights and advice.

As a leader in automation, data capture and technology solutions for the healthcare industry since 1975, we’re on the front lines every day, helping hospitals and other medical facilities improve productivity and efficiency while making their employees’ jobs easier.

To get recommendations and answers to any of your questions, or to schedule a free consultation to review your operations and the best ways to optimize, contact us now at 1-800-263-4258 or through our website.