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involves ensuring that interoperable safety software can electronically transfer a patient’s medication administra- tion information through a hospital’s network to a smart infusion pump, using bar-code medication administration (BCMA). This connectivity helps medical professionals check the “fi ve rights” of medication administration: the right patient is receiving the right medication at the right dosage, through the right route at the right time. The “fi ve rights” verifi cation has been shown to generally reduce medication errors by 65 to 86 percent.

A new age for devices as a means to quality care Many of the device functions mentioned so far are possible only if the medical devices are interoperable with other tools or with a healthcare facility’s larger IT network. The push for interoperability is gaining mo- mentum and it ultimately will drive innovation, enabling manufacturers to introduce new products faster and more cost effectively. The fi nal defi nition of meaningful use will do the same. For instance, the requirement that providers “use

certifi ed technology to submit data to the government on specifi c clinical quality measures and performance metrics” could lead to the development of new report- ing tools, as well as new uses for existing devices. One example: Software surveillance tools that monitor data and use alerts to help hospitals identify and isolate infec- tions also could provide an easy means for reporting on meaningful-use metrics.

Other medical devices offer similar potential, and meaningful use could usher in a new age for devices as a means to higher-quality care. But fi rst, device makers must demonstrate to providers and policymakers that they can help add meaning to meaningful use.

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The Hospira Plum A+ Infusion System provides precise delivery of multiple therapies across the general spectrum of clinical care.

The closed-loop medication administration process will be included in the 2013 standards for meaningful use, and many hospitals already have some of the needed technology in place. However, while BCMA systems are certifi ed for meaningful use, the smart-pump device technology that helps deliver the closed-loop benefi t is not. Certifi cation of smart pumps, along with the cer- tifi cation of the integrated systems, would mean many hospitals could demonstrate one form of meaningful use immediately. It also would accelerate the pace at which other providers implement these technologies, enabling them to receive incentives that could be used toward earlier adoption of other health IT. Ultimately, providers could even achieve the fi nal stage of meaningful use – and improved patient care and outcomes – much sooner.

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