Thinking ahead - Barcoding Technology

A core Connect Care strategy is avoidance of hybrid (mixed paper and digital) workflows. This is particularly important where data re-entry is error-prone and puts patients at risk. An important example relates to medication administration. Mistakes involving just a character or two can make the difference between intended or unintended person, medication, dose, route or frequency.

Accordingly, Alberta Health Services (AHS) takes the opportunity of Connect Care to implement barcoding technology in medication workflows. A unique identifier will appear on all medications dispensed by AHS pharmacies. When medications are administered, providers scan the patient wristband as well as the medication. This simplifies data entry, safety checks and documentation.

Another core Connect Care strategy is to "close the loop" on as many workflows as possible. In the case of medication administration, this means workflow-attuned tracking so that there is an unbroken informational chain from plan, reconciliation, adverse reaction check, order, pharmacy receipt, decision support, dispensing, administration, documentation and effect monitoring. Barcoding locks down one more step in closed-loop medication management.

Physicians will be less affected by medication barcode scanning than other members of the multidisciplinary team. Still, it is important to understand an important change to team workflows that affect us. Questions can be directed to connectcare@ahs.ca.

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