Chemotherapy treatments have made remarkable improvements over the last twenty years, and many of these improved methods were made possible by advances in electronics technology. The relationship between electronics and chemothereapy revolves around the administration of chemo drug infusions and the complex management of patient therapy plans and dosage requirements. The benefits of electronic infusion are clear; precise and automatic dosages programmed to release a specific amount of the drug over a defined time period. The benefits of electronic management of patient data and provider communications are multifaceted.
Electronic medication management serves patients and providers through checks and balances, integrated systems documentation and standardized communications. For any given patient, the registration staff, nurses, doctor’s orders and health records must be consistent and accessible. All communications must adhere to the ASCO/ONS suggested standards for administering chemotherapy.
Bar coding is one method used to track patient information, and according to the Journal of Oncology Practice, has been successful in improving documentation consistency and communication among healthcare providers. Without effective electronic data management, patients could miss doses, receive incorrect or mistimed doses and may suffer as a result.
The Electronic System
From the beginning, patient information is entered into the computer and becomes immediately accessible to staff and providers. When the individual is checked into the hospital, they receive a wristband with a unique barcode linked to their personal electronic file. This same barcode is used by providers during order entry, by pharmacists on drug labels and by nursing staff to document drug administration. With the armband barcode, one scan records the drug amount, name, delivery method, time given and administering nurse. If any changes need to be made, nurses can use an electronic message system to communicate with the pharmacy.
Patients benefit from these efficient systems by receiving accurate dosages with the least amount of follow-up. They also benefit by being able to receive care anywhere there is access to their barcode information. Mobile chemotherapy administration units do just this, bringing the treatment to the patients. This convenient concept reduces the amount of patient travel, isolates their compromised immune systems from other patients undergoing chemotherapy and still provides quality care.
To summarize, utilizing electronics and chemothereapy improves patient safety by minimizing missed or incorrect orders, ensuring drugs are properly administered and leaving a clear history of all actions taken. Any of these situations could result in greater suffering for the patient. In this way, electronic data management helps ensure the comfort of those undergoing treatment. While the automation of orders makes last minute changes difficult, it improves communications between multidisciplinary team members.
Modernizing chemotherapy treatment not only creates new care options for patients, it standardizes documentation and improves workflow efficiency at every stage of care.
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