The Florida Office of Rural Health has awarded over $200,000 in pharmacy health information technology grants to nine critical access rural hospitals. The HRSA grant funding is part of an ongoing effort to help Florida’s small rural hospitals improve the quality of care by helping the hospitals implement information technologies.
The total cost for the equipment to be acquired by the hospitals is over $400,000. The grant funds will help the hospitals purchase computerized pharmacy management information systems, automated medication dispensing cabinets, and computerized medication infusion pumps.
The program is being conducted in cooperation with Florida’s Medicare Quality Improvement Organization, within the University of Florida’s College of Pharmacy and Shands Teaching Hospital. A recent survey showed that ten of Florida’s eleven critical access hospitals have implemented automated medication dispensing equipment.
In addition to providing the funding for pharmacy HIT equipment, over the past five years, the program has worked with hospital nursing and pharmacy staff to establish functioning hospital medication safety committees, established processes for identifying and reconciling medications that patients are taking when they are admitted to the hospital, implemented procedures for screening and providing patients with immunizations without a doctor’s order, developed processes, systems and staff skills for reporting, analyzing and addressing the causes of medication errors, and initiated efforts to report medication errors in emergency rooms.
The Florida ePrescribe Clearinghouse web site (www.fhin.net/eprescribe/Index.shtml) created by state legislation is an effort of the Office of Health Information Technology located within the Agency for Health Care Administration, and other groups to provide information on the process of e-prescribing. The site provides information and on the availability of electronic prescribing products, links to federal and private sector websites that help to select an electronic prescribing product and links to state, federal, and private sector incentive programs to implement e-prescribing. The web site also links to e-prescribing programs being used by the Florida RHIOs.
For example, the Big Bend Regional Healthcare Organization in North Florida is using e-prescribing and now has an innovative new product called an Automated Medication Dispenser that enables a physician through the use of an ePrescriber to dispense prescription medications directly to their patients at the point of care.
The Tampa Bay HIO uses eMPowerx from Gold Standard, which is the same application used in the Florida Medicaid e-prescribing pilot. In the Northeast Florida Health Information collaborative, the Duval County Health Department uses an electronic pharmacy record system available from Interactive Systems Management, Inc. A second link on the website is currently dedicated to the Florida Electronic Prescribing Advisory Panel with links to meeting agendas, minutes and related materials.