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Drug In Virtual Enterprise

Exploitable results

Despite remarkable advances in healthcare and delivery, every year patients die or are disabled throughout Europe and the world as a result of medical errors. These mistakes usually arise from systems' problems rather than one single action or decision. But DRIVE is saving lives with new technological solutions, reducing errors by between 50 and 100 per cent. "Every one accepts that 'to err is human'. From time to time we all forget to switch the gas off or close the window and this principal is common to doctors and nurses too. Acknowledging that mistakes are part of the working life of the hospital and taking steps to prevent them can have a dramatic, positive effect on patient care. Ours is a simple solution, but a very effective one," said DRIVE project manager Alberto Sanna. Employing technology already widely used in supermarkets to automatically stock take and reorder goods, the IST programme funded-project DRIVE has developed and tested the Smart Cart, a trolley used for dispensing drugs in hospital. The cart operates in association with a number of related smart products such as labels, packages, a drugs cabinet, patient wristbands and smart/microchip cards for clinicians. Those involved in sustainable healthcare are already showing an interest in the project's findings as reducing the number of medical errors also makes commercial sense. The thousands of patients who survive medicine-related mistakes each year become more ill, requiring additional treatment, creating extra expense for health services, in addition to the obvious ethical considerations. In addition to reducing costs, by effectively predicting the quantity of medication needed and automatically ordering it, the DRIVE system could save health services millions of euros and reduce operative logistic costs, for example by reducing the amount of nurses' and administrative staffs' time previously taken up with stock taking and ordering. Trails generating worldwide interest Trials of the DRIVE prototypes took place in the San Raffaele Hospital over a period of four months and were very successful. "This project has real commercial potential; already healthcare authorities from Europe, Japan and America have shown an interest in DRIVE technology. "We based our prototypes on research into the clinical process, the supply chain and patient safety and privacy. The trials showed incredible reductions in the probability of errors. In all tasks tested, reductions were at least 50 per cent. More than 600 patients were involved in the study and 92 per cent of them were in favour of the digital wristband," said Sanna. For example, one of the most critical activities for the patient safety is preparing drugs for intravenous, intramuscular, intradermal or subcutaneous administration. Preliminary studies indicate that the Smart Cart has reduced the level of risk associated with this by 71 per cent. In the case of the risk of incorrect patient identification the risk level has been reduced by practically 100 per cent. Doing the rounds: how does the technology work in practice? Using 2D barcode technology the smart cabinet contains drugs with smart labels, which enables the automatic stocktaking and reordering of products. The clinician is recognised by the smart cabinet from his/her smart card and allows them to stock the Smart Cart with medicines. The Smart Cart recognises the drugs being loaded onto the trolley and holds a record of the medication needed for the rounds. The cart sounds a warning if the wrong medicine is put in the trolley, alerting the operator of his/her mistake. Once loaded, the trolley is taken on to the ward. Patients' smart wristbands provide information on the medication prescribed which can be read by the cart, which warns doctors of errors at the point of prescribing and administering medication to patients. DRIVE uses recent technology in terms of digital security, with smartcards for authentication and digital signatures, permitting differentiated access to medical data. Access to patient data depends on the user profile whether internally or externally, and the type of sensitive data. Clinicians can only access data relevant to the patient's immediate medical needs; other personal data, including the full medical history, remains private, increasing the security and confidentiality of medical care. At any point the system can be overridden by the operator, but the warning mechanisms ensure they make an informed medical decision and prevent errors due to lack of information. A healthcare print out, similar to a bank statement, allows patients to check on the care they have received and increases awareness of who has access to their personal details. Demonstrations of the prototypes and processes will be given at the IST 2003 conference. Source: Based on information from DRIVE Promoted by the IST Results Service