A recent release from NORC at the University of Chicago notes that in the brief period 2013 through 2015, medication costs for in-patients in the U.S. increased at over 23% per year. This increase highlights the need for careful medication administration. Leading CIS providers have offered bar coded medication tracking (BCMA) tools for almost twenty years, and implementing them safely should be a concern for hospitals in the U.S. and elsewhere.
In early years, internet bloggers were more likely to report how med distribution processes could be sidestepped, showcasing the need for reliable and time-saving improvements that were not a step backward. Among these was the introduction of medication carts small enough to enter patient rooms, unit dose packaging and bar coded labeling and authentication. Tracking medication has become the norm in most U. S. hospitals and is now started on other countries. Hospitals have a large financial stake as BCMA is designed and implemented.
Once medication bar coded was more or less standardized, standard tools became useful and cost effective. A typical BCMA system now includes a moderately sized wheeled computer cart equipped with electronically locking drawers, individual user passwords and bar code readers. These carts are typically small enough to fit bedside where space is tight. Caregivers appreciate storage for the tools and supplies, so a typical drawer configuration includes several medication bins in a cassette format and one larger drawer.
Vendors offer medication storage and fixed dispensing cabinets intended for location on the Unit. The cabinets support password security and patient profile information. Some hospitals have merged Unit-based meds storage with older processes by having a caregiver retrieve meds for one or two patients from the Unit storage cabinet, holding them in pockets pending delivering to patients. Recent enhancements by makers of these on-Unit storage cabinets allow the caregiver to schedule pickup of meds in advance from their computer carts.In another workflow design, the patient-specific medication bins are filled in the pharmacy under robotic control, assuring compliance between the hospital record of patient need and delivery.
Some hospitals still allow caregivers to retrieve meds from a fixed cabinet for one or two patients, holding them in pockets until delivery to patients. In another, cassette drawers are temporarily stored in and exchanged from larger locked more-or-less stationary medcarts in the Unit.
This mix of methods demonstrates the initiatives of planners and the variety of tools that have grown up to meet various needs. In all cases, the meds are scanned back to patient records at delivery for accuracy, record keeping and charge capture.
BCMA Tools from Scott-Clark Medical
SCM was a pioneer of BCMA-compliant medcarts, offering early models to several U.S. hospitals in 1999. The design included a medication cabinet drawer assembly, reduced to provide a drawer for each patient of one caregiver for one shift. This compact drawer assembly used the same security of the larger cabinets, modified slightly for mobile use.
Several years ago we enhanced this design to meet the developing needs of our customers. We added a locking system that allowed lock/unlock of only a specific drawer, and record keeping of openings (and closings). A proprietary cassette system further enhanced the new product.
Now in 2017, we addressed the issues of power management that accompanies battery systems. Our hybrid LiFe power kit allowed flexibility in keeping a cart operating. Now we offer a power enhancement that is actually rooted in the computer in the cart. Our lightweight battery will now support a medcart for over twenty hours before needing attention, far more than the 6-10 hours offered by others, and in a different class from 3-5 hours from those computers with built-in batteries.
Drawer configurations that can support the variety of med distribution methods, long time between recharge and low energy/high performance on-board computers make SCM medication carts the premier BCMA tool.
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