Networks work on integrating info

February 1, 1997
Pharmaceutical Representative

Integrated delivery networks that link hospitals, physicians, laboratories, pharmacies and other services are springing up across the country.

Integrated delivery networks that link hospitals, physicians, laboratories, pharmacies and other services are springing up across the country.

Central to an integrated delivery network's success is an effective information management system, according to Everett Hines, principal, Coopers & Lybrand Integrated Health Care Consulting Services Practice. Hines has 30 years of experience working with health information systems and currently helps more than 300 health care clients implement effective information systems.

In an interview with Editor Laura Ramos, Hines said information management systems should provide networks with the fundamental infrastructure for data communications and for sharing patient records across the continuum of care.

Pharmaceutical Representative: How successful are networks at managing data?

Hines: Information management systems are just coming into reality. By 1998 or 2000, we'll have systems that allow a repository of information to move with the patient from the physician office, hospital or pharmacy.

What kind of drug data do information management systems track?

Most of the information systems in health care today basically track drug orders, drug-drug interactions, drug-lab interactions and drug-dietary interactions. These systems also offer users the ability to call up the "Physicians' Desk Reference."

One drug company, Glaxo Wellcome, has a partnership with Physician Computer Network to develop health care information systems for integrated networks. How are pharmaceutical companies becoming involved in information management?

Pharmaceutical companies are interested and concerned in what managed care can do to them. They know the old way of selling doesn't cut it anymore.

Because pharmaceutical companies have money - and hospitals and physicians are losing money - we may see more drug companies get involved in information management.

Have physicians warmed up to computer technology?

Physicians, in general, do not like computers, but they are accepting more technology.

Because managed care has compressed hospital stays and the time physicians spend with patients, doctors realize they need to be able to get patient information quickly. Physicians need to see all the patient information on screen at once: lab results, medications, past history, etc.

Most doctors don't know what drugs their patients receive from other sources. In the future, caregivers will be able to take that information into consideration as they prescribe. It's a tremendous help, because some patients may not even know the names of the drugs they take.

For physicians, I see a lot of promise in systems like HealthPoint that use a pen-based device or systems that use voice recognition.

For example, the radiology department at Johns Hopkins Medical Center uses voice input for all its patient records. However, there can be problems if doctor talks too fast or has a cold.

If technology can perfect voice recognition, it would be a major breakthrough in information management. PR