Lourdes Uses “Jump Drive” Technology to Help Dialysis Patients Better Manage Their Care
Thursday, December 6, 2007
New Program Will Lead to Better Safety, Reduce Medication Errors
(Camden) – Beginning this month, all dialysis patients receiving care at the Southern New Jersey Dialysis Center at Our Lady of Lourdes Medical Center will receive a small "jump drive" e-health record device in an effort to increase safety; reduce medication errors and negative drug interactions; provide vital medical information such as allergies, medical diagnoses, emergency contacts and hospitalization records; and better manage their overall care, according John Capelli, M.D., Medical Director of Renal and Transplant Services at Lourdes.
"Patients on dialysis are often very difficult to manage because of their complex medical needs," said Dr. Capelli. "Because of their condition, the average dialysis patient is on a complicated combination of medications received through their three-times-a-week hemodialysis sessions. In addition, it is not unusual for a dialysis patient to take another 10 or more different medications at home on a daily basis."
"Medication Reconciliation" of patient home medications at the time of admission and discharge is now a Joint Commission standard for all hospitals. It is a particularly challenging standard to meet because most patients have a difficult time remembering all their medications and dosages.
To further complicate matters, during emergency situations or even when patients see their regular doctor or another specialist, it becomes almost impossible for patients or their family members to communicate what medicines they are taking. "This can lead to very dangerous situations," said Dr. Capelli. Likewise, dialysis patients often feel very limited in freedom, refusing to travel for fear an emergency should arise and they wouldn't be able to fully communicate their medical conditions and treatments.
Dr. Capelli developed the concept of creating a portable medical record and created the software application for use with the jump drive. "We feel that we have tackled a complex problem to ease our patients' already difficult situation and give them a tool that can help them feel more in control," said Dr. Capelli.
The program works like this: Each patient receives a flash or jump-drive. Using a special software program, key important information is extracted from his or her medical record and loaded onto the drive, including: patient demographics (name, doctors, insurance information, etc); dialysis prescription; at-home medications (including generic and brand name, dosage and frequency); known medication allergies; recent hospitalizations (dates and diagnosis); and emergency contact information.
Within a few seconds with just a few keystrokes at a computer, the information is loaded onto the device in a plain text format. It can be plugged into any computer anywhere and easily read -- no special hardware or software are needed.
The jump drive has a key ring so it can be easily attached to the patient's keys and/or handbag so that it is readily available even in emergency situations, just like a medical alert bracelet. If lost, the device has instructions to drop into the nearest mail box and it will be mailed back to the Lourdes dialysis center.
"Because complications often arise in these patients and medications are frequently adjusted, we will update each patient's e-health record monthly or as needed," said Dr. Capelli. The program is offered to all Lourdes dialysis patients free of charge.
"It doesn't cost us a lot to offer this service, and we feel we have an obligation to help these patients better manage their care," Dr. Capelli said. "This is a great example of using current technology to enhance our patient's care. The response from our patients has been overwhelmingly positive and very grateful," he said.
"From the Emergency Department prospective, these devices are invaluable," said Al Sacchetti, M.D., Chief of Emergency Medicine at Lourdes. "Literally within minutes of a patient's arrival, we have all the essential information we need to manage an incredibly complex patient we have never seen before."
Our Lady of Lourdes Medical Center is a regional leader in offering both inpatient and outpatient renal dialysis services, providing more than 40,000 treatments each year. In addition to the outpatient center located on the hospital's campus, the program maintains satellite dialysis centers in Mt. Laurel and Sewell.
Note to Editors: Dr. Capelli and Dr. Sacchetti are both available for interviews. Demonstrations and sample reports are also available.
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