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Digital Docs Albert Einstein said, “I never think of the future, it comes too quickly.” This is true for most of the doctors in Amer ica. According to the latest research from PERQ/HCI Media, 30% of doctors have PDAs, and that is expected to double over the next cou ple years. Therefore, we have to create and plan our businesses around the fact that the ever increasing popularity of digital technologies will change both the doctor’s office as well as how doctors interact with their patients. The ability to access patient records, drug interaction data, and lab results, as well as write an eRx, is already occurring in some hospitals and practices today. This will only lead to a more efficient and higher quality healthcare system. Look at the recent Harvard’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital study that shows how ePocrates Rx helps improve medication safety and reduce drug errors. ePocrates Rx is a popu lar handheld PDA drugreference application that is used by more than 500,000 healthcare professionals. Technologies like ePocrates Rx will only expand in scope and enable an improved healthcare system. Let’s embrace new technologies and support the pioneers out there. Anthony S. Manson SENIOR VP, MANAGING DIRECTOR AVENUEE HEALTH STRATEGIES Turning Data into Information A safe medical decision depends on several factors, such as the availability of information about the patient, the drug and the disease, as well as the appropriate treatment regimen at the place and time the physician is making the decision. Our current paperbased system finds patient information dispersed among providers and rarely is it all where physicians need it when they need it. The critical information about drugs and diseases also is dispersed but across journals, textbooks, and other literature sources. Treatment guidelines are available. However, they come from a variety of organizations, are often incomplete or not patientspecific, and few physicians can keep all the paperbased rec ommendations with them at all times. Technology can address all of these prob lems. An electronic record can aggregate patient data from a variety of sources and make it available to the physician at the point of deci sion. However, this raw data can become a flood of numbers, and the critical features for the instant decision may not be apparent. A clinical decisionsupport system, as developed by TheraDoc, can make clinical inferences, filter the spurious data, and organize the key data for presentation to the physician. In other words, it turns data into information. This allows the user to view the patient information needed to make a therapeutic decision — at the moment the decision is being made. The traditional model physicians use to gain scientific knowledge is to read text books and journals in an attempt to stay current and then hope they can recall or find it when needed. However, the volume of new information and the speed at which it is published makes this impossible. TheraDoc is built on an expert knowledge base, which organizes the broad scientific data available into relevant, evidencebased informa tion. It is continuously updated to reflect the most current medical knowledge. This informa tion is then filtered to the specific clinical cir cumstances facing the physician, again deliver ing the pertinent information needed at the right moment. Technology also simplifies the delivery of clinical guidelines. Embedding guidelines and best practices into the software ensures that the physician has them available at the point of decision. In addition, the system can combine patient information to tailor the recommenda tions to the circumstances of the patient. This results in a patientspecific recommendation that combines the relevant information about the patient, the drug, the disease, and best prac tices and is delivered to the physician’s finger tips at the moment it is needed. This concept of “justintime knowledge” is similar to the very successful model industry has adopted for inventory. In essence, the OPINIONS The challenges of prescribing physicians
In the May/June 2002 issue of PharmaVOICE, we asked how practicing physicians could be better served, and better serve their patients, through management techniques and information technology. PharmaVOICE wants to know how physicians can better marry quality care with cost conscious, evidence based decision making. “inventory” of a physician or any other knowl edge worker, is the knowledge needed to com plete a task such as diagnosis or treatment of a patient. When TheraDoc’s clinical decision support technology provides information at the moment it is needed, the physician is able to deliver safe, effective, evidencebased care using the most accurate and up to date knowledge. Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to “voice my opinion” on this topic! W. Joseph Ketcherside, M.D. CLINICAL INTEGRATION, ENGINEERING, AND INFORMATICS OFFICER THERADOC Electronic Medical Records Technology can — and does — improve the quality of healthcare today. In our own medical group, we use a templatebased elec tronic medical record (EMR) system, with templates for more than 400 clinical condi tions. Each template not only reminds the physician to check for a variety of important items relevant to that case but has practice guidelines and evidencebased recommenda tions also linked to each template. On sever al occasions, those templates have fortuitous ly jogged my memory. We also create and print our prescriptions electronically and give them to patients to save time and reduce errors. While this tech nology has been available for years, there are still practices that fail to adopt it. The most frequent obstacle to EMR adoption has been the culture at the point of care. Ash Nashed, M.D. CEO MDCHOICE I n the April 2002 issue of PharmaVOICE,we asked how companies are keeping employ ees motivated, incentivized, and smiling on a regular basis. We received so many responses for the May/June issue that PharmaVOICE decided to continue this topic in this issue. Employee Recognition etrials was the recipient of two “Best Places to Work” awards in 2001 because of our employeerecognition programs and family friendly incentives. These include everything from family events such as pig roasts to “nightout” bonuses to employees who put in extra time on projects. In addition to encour aging family activities, other incentives at the company include: Summer Days: Management provides one free day each month from June through Septem ber to enjoy the sun and get out of the office. These are complimentary days for each employ ee, with no deduction from vacation banks. Culture Club: Each quarter a new Culture Club is chosen, with members from various etrials departments, to plan fun events. Travel: Our inhouse travel agent is available to book business travel and help with personal vacation plans for all etrials employees. Special discounts are available. Commissions for per sonal travel are credited back to the employee. John Cline PRESIDENT ETRIALS The Emotional Factor While many people feel that money is the only incentive for motivating employees, stud ies have shown that emotional factors are just as critical in keeping them happy and productive. All people need a sense of pride in their work, the challenge of growing in their jobs, independence in making decisions, and appre ciation and support for their decisions from their managers. These incentives, more than anything else, are the factors that keep employ ees happy and motivated. By hiring the right people, giving them responsibility for handling their own projects, and recogni tion for a job well done, managers will keep their people motivated and loyal, through good times and bad. Rich Levy PRESIDENT AND CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER ADAIRGREENE INC. Company Culture A pleasant working atmosphere and a com pany culture is what keeps people happy. A “good job,” and a pat on the back go a long way to provide acknowledgement. For employ ees, these things are more important in many ways than financial incentives. Michael Norton PRESIDENT, MARKETING COMMUNICATIONS SERVICES GROUP EURO RSCG HEALTHVIEW More ways to keep employees smiling … WHAT’S on your mind