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Long-term care medication charts going electronic

The Missouri pharmacist-entrepreneur who electronically linked physicians and R.Ph.s is now trying to take the paperwork out of medication administration records in long-term care facilities.

Bob Davis, who developed the e-Scrip electronic Rx transmission system, is field-testing "LTC Link" in Independence at The Groves, a nonprofit health-care facility that includes a 300-bed skilled nursing unit. Hitching a ride on the medication cart, the LTC Link software runs on a laptop computer equipped with a handheld bar-code scanner to eliminate the cumbersome paper notebook typically used to chart meds administered to patients. Medical details stored in the software, including a digitally scanned photo of each patient, help the Certified Medical Technician make certain that the right patient is receiving the right medication in the right dosage at the right time. The operator simply records the designated medical data automatically requested by the software. There's also space for the CMT to record personal observations about the patient. The information can be used to generate reports for the medical staff, Medicare, Medicaid, and third-party payers.

"The new MAR [medication administration records] electronic system can include patient status requests, disease management protocols, patient drug therapy profiles, and DUR alerts," said Davis. "We are using the same practical approach we did with e-Scrip in developing and testing this new electronic charting system. But we anticipate a much shorter time line from the drawing board to wide use."

After a demonstration of LTC Link, Dorothy Fauntleroy, president-CEO of the 300-bed Swope Ridge Geriatric Center, observed that electronic MAR would enhance patient care. She added, "It would provide us appropriate reports so that we could better monitor the pattern of medications, and it would help us identify outcomes in a more timely fashion."

The LTC Link system is being test-driven at The Groves. Starting with four or five patients in a 50-bed unit, the operational test will pit LTC Link against a traditional paper system to find out whether the electronic version deliv