Pharmacists

Is NLP-Enabled Data Mining the Digital Breakthrough We’ve Been Waiting For?

Natural language processing might seem a bit arcane and technical – the type of thing that software engineers talk about deep into the night, but of limited usefulness for practicing docs and their patients. Yet software that can “read” physicians’ and nurses’ notes may prove to be one of the seminal breakthroughs in digital medicine. Exhibit A, from the world of medical research: a recent study linked the use of proton pump inhibitors to subsequent heart attacks. It did this by plowing through 16 million notes in electronic health records. While legitimate epidemiologic questions can be raised about the association (more on this later), the technique may well be a game-changer. Let’s start with a little background. One of the great tensions in health information technology centers on how to record data about patients. This used to be simple. At the time of Hippocrates, the doctor chronicled the patient’s symptoms…

Q: How do you call a pharmacist? A: “Waiter!”

  That was the old cardiology joke from a decade ago when job supply exceeded demand.  The field seemed to get its groove back—through both supplier-induced and demand factors—but do not hold your breath.  Workforce needs have only begun to get critical reappraisal and I would not rule out restaurant service for any specialty as health reform shakes out our sector. Along those lines, as medicine becomes a team sport, ratios of doctors to nurses, PA's, NP's, therapists, and pharmacists all will undergo scrutiny.  And as of 2014, I thought I had a handle on where things stood.  As to pharmacists at least, I read the wrong playbook.  I had no idea: Now, the profession is on the verge of a crisis: The number of pharmacy jobs has dried up but the number of pharmacy students keeps growing. It’s difficult to find a cushy, full-time job and metropolitan job markets…

Safety Matters – Especially to Our Patients

by Paul W. Abramowitz, PharmD, ScD, FASHP The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP) is dedicated to building relationships within the health care community that strengthen medication and patient safety through interprofessional care. We are excited to have the Society of Hospital Medicine’s (SHM) participation this year in our Medication Safety Collaborative. As health care practitioners, our number one goal is to deliver quality care to patients throughout the entire health care continuum. ASHP’s Medication Safety Collaborative helps to achieve this goal. The collaboration between hospitalists and pharmacists is very important. As medication therapy experts, pharmacists—when working collaboratively with physicians, nurses and other health care practitioners—help to foster optimal models for team-based, patient-centered care. The Medication Safety Collaborative (Collaborative) promotes this by offering a unique interprofessional, educational opportunity to bring together practitioners to build and exchange ideas on improving quality and patient care. The feedback we received about last year’s Collaborative…

Patient Safety’s First Scandal: The Sad Case of Chuck Denham, CareFusion, and the NQF

In retrospect – always in retrospect – it should have been obvious that, when it came to Dr. Charles Denham, something was not quite right. In a remarkable number of cases of medical errors, it’s clear – again, in retrospect – that there were signs that something was amiss, but they were ignored. The reasons are manifold: I was just too busy, things are always glitchy around here, I didn’t want to be branded a troublemaker by speaking up…. Part of the work of patient safety has been to alert us to this risk, to get us to trust our internal “spidey-sense.” When something seems wrong, we tell front-line clinicians, speak up! It’s fitting, then, that the first major scandal in the world of patient safety has a similar subtext. The scandal, which broke two weeks ago, involves a $40 million fine levied by the Department of Justice against a…

HIT Job: How the New York Times Blew it on Healthcare IT

I’m well aware that a good fraction of the people in this country – let’s call them Rush fans – spend their lives furious at the New York Times. I am not one of them. I love the Grey Lady; it would be high on my list of things to bring to a desert island. But every now and then, the paper screws up, and it did so in a big way in its recent piece on the federal program to promote healthcare information technology (HIT). Let’s stipulate that the Federal government’s $20 billion incentive program (called “HITECH”), designed to drive the adoption of electronic health records, is not perfect. Medicare’s “Meaningful Use” rules – the standards that hospitals’ and clinics’ EHRs must meet to qualify for bonus payments – have been criticized as both too soft and too restrictive. (You know the rules are probably about right when the…
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