For healthcare providers, such as physicians, nurses and pharmacists, ensuring medication reconciliation is not only a patient safety measure, but also a crucial aspect of delivering effective care. It involves identifying which medications patients are currently taking, any changes in their medication regimen and reconciling this information with their medical history. This medication reconciliation forms the basis for informed treatment decisions in the electronic medical record (EHR) all clinicians use to chart patient information.
However, consolidation of this information can be difficult when data is potentially entered on a patient from hundreds of entry points in the care system. But, health information technology is now available to help with this data consolidation process.
Health Exec spoke with Kateita Hasanovic, RN, senior director, clinical EHR applications at Baptist Health, Jacksonville, Florida, about how her large health system consolidated its Epic EHR and patient medication history. She presented on her experience at the Healthcare Information Management Systems Society (HIMSS) 2023 meeting.
She said implementation of this consolidation, which involved migrating various EHRs into a single, integrated platform, has had a profound impact on patient safety, interoperability and overall healthcare efficiency.
“Baptist Health recently went live and on migrating all of our different EHRs into one consolidated platform in the summer of 2022. We’re a six hospital health system. We have three freestanding emergency departments, and we also have a partnership with MD Anderson with the Baptist MD Anderson Cancer Center. We have 200 or more different points of entrys for our patients because we have a plethora of primary care offices and outpatient facilities. And you have to remember, everyone was on a different EHR system. So we went live with Epic across the system, and in doing that, we had to make sure that our medication data was managed into one, single platform,” Hasanovic explained.
The challenge of consolidating medication reconciliation from different data sources
When patients seek care at different facilities or from various providers, medication reconciliation is imperative to have a clear and accurate understanding of the medications they are currently taking. This is often matched with prescriptions that are known from the EHR that were entered previously info the patient’s record. This helps with understanding some health issues the patient might be experiencing, and what interactions or other issues may arise if they are treated at the hospital with other pharmaceutical agents. Hasanovic said patients may not always remember or accurately convey this information, and discrepancies in medication records can lead to errors, adverse drug interactions, and compromised patient safety.
This issue of getting the medication reconciliation correct is compounded when data entry for the patient resides in multiple electronic medical record systems at different locations.
Baptist Health, being a six-hospital health system with multiple outpatient facilities, faced the challenge of consolidating data from different EHR systems. With the help of an artificial intelligence (AI) solution provided by the vendor DrFirst, Hasanovic said they successfully merged and standardized medication data from disparate sources into a single, comprehensive record. This solution not only streamlined medication reconciliation but also offered numerous benefits for clinicians, patients, and the healthcare system as a whole.
“Pharmacy plays a key role in medication reconciliation because they are the guardians of this medication data. They make sure that we’re dotting our I’d and crossing our T’s. So if the pharmacist is not getting information in one place, then we have a problem,” Hasanovic explained.
Benefits of data consolidation in EHR
Hasanovic said there are benefits to connecting the medication data in one location. Enhanced patient safety is the key benefit. With accurate and standardized medication data accessible to all clinicians, the risk of medication errors and harmful drug interactions is significantly reduced.
Improved interoperability allows for seamless access to patient information from any location or healthcare institution that utilizes the same EHR platform. This feature also empowers patients to access their records easily and promotes continuity of care.
Data consolidation also provides a solid foundation for data analytics. Efficient data management enables healthcare providers to make evidence-based decisions, improving the quality of care.
Incorporate all stakeholder perspectives when discussing medication reconciliation system
One of the key takeaways from Baptist Health’s successful data consolidation journey is the importance of involving all stakeholders. She said collaboration with various departments, including pharmacy, nursing, medication technicians, and clinicians, was essential. These stakeholders played an active role in the consolidation process, sharing their insights and needs, which contributed to the successful implementation.
Hasanovic said healthcare organizations looking to embark on a similar journey should prioritize collaboration and involve all relevant stakeholders. When clinicians, IT teams and vendors work together to consolidate data effectively, patients ultimately benefit from safer, more streamlined, and higher-quality care. Data consolidation is not merely an IT project, it is a patient-centered endeavor that transforms the way healthcare is delivered, Hasanovic explained.
Meet the Author
Dave Fornell has covered healthcare for more than 17 years, with a focus in cardiology and radiology. Fornell is a 5-time winner of a Jesse H. Neal Award, the most prestigious editorial honors in the field of specialized journalism. The wins included best technical content, best use of social media and best COVID-19 coverage. Fornell was also a three-time Neal finalist for best range of work by a single author. He produces more than 100 editorial videos each year, most of them interviews with key opinion leaders in medicine. He also writes technical articles, covers key trends, conducts video hospital site visits, and is very involved with social media. E-mail: email@example.com