October 2012 marks the start of Valek & Co.'s 10th year. This issue highlights an advertorial I recently had the opportunity to write for Forbes magazine. This article, titled "A Compelling Case for Health IT," is the third piece on this topic I have authored for Forbes on behalf of the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS).
The second article in this issue is about a "Safe use of opioids in hospitals," I helped to produce this alert for The Joint Commission by reviewing medical studies on the topic, interviewing experts, and writing drafts. While these medications help many individuals cope with acute or chronic pain, they must be carefully prescribed and their effects closely monitored by health care professionals.
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By Genevieve Valek
Health IT (information technology) is being used more frequently in hospitals around the country. For example, electronic health records (EHRs) increase efficiency and accuracy by documenting each step of a patient's medical history, something that is extremely important to ensure the proper care of an individual. Hospitals and physicians now can earn government incentive payments to implement EHRs.
Ray Valek, president of Valek & Co., wrote "A Compelling Case for Health IT," an advertorial for Forbes magazine to provide the public with knowledge about this up-and-coming method of record keeping. In the article, Ray Valek writes, "In addition to streamlining workflow, health IT can have a positive impact on patient health and a healthcare organization's financial bottom line." Not only will EHRs benefit patients, they will also keep hospitals on the leading edge.
Most patients work with at least three or four health care providers or organizations during the duration of a case, including their health insurance company, personal doctor, hospital, pharmacy and others. EHRs help to keep everyone on the same page, and without this technology, reaching perfection in providing health care would be impossible.
Organizations mentioned in the article included Valek & Co. client HIMSS (Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society), VMware, and Siemens Healthcare.
By Genevieve Valek
Opioid analgesics rank among the drugs most frequently associated with adverse events including respiratory depression and oversedation. Many injured or sick patients receive these medications to treat intense pain. However, prescribing opioid analgesics for patients without proper screening, precautions and monitoring can be extremely dangerous. Doctors and other health care professionals need to be aware of the risks of prescribing opioids.
Describing the risks of opioids and what doctors can do to reduce the misuse and overuse of these drugs, Ray Valek contributed to the team that produced "Safe use of opioids in hospitals," a Sentinel Event Alert for The Joint Commission. "The safe use of opioids in hospital settings relies on an accurate pain assessment and then applying appropriate pain management techniques," the alert says.
Patients who are considered at high risk for respiratory depression or oversedation include those with sleep apnea, morbid obesity, preexisting cardiac disease, and other particular conditions. Hospitals can take several actions to prevent these adverse events from arising, such as proper staff training and education, safe technology, and effective processes and tools. Knowing a patient's history of analgesic use is also useful in preventing misuse or overuse.
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