Oncology services focus on cancer detection and the care of patients with cancer and include physician office or clinic visits, chemotherapy treatments, radiation therapy, and a variety of patient support services. Two major facility components include the radiation oncology suite and the medical oncology/chemotherapy infusion area which may be co-located or in separate areas or facilities.
The practice of laboratory medicine continues to experience revolutionary change as a result of consolidation, an increasing number of “waived” tests, and changing medical practices. These factors have already had a significant impact on hospital-based laboratories and will continue to affect their operations over the next decade.
As one of the nation’s most automated hospital pharmacies, the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) is using robotic technology and electronics with the goal of improving patient safety. Once computers at the pharmacy electronically receive medication orders from UCSF physicians and pharmacists, the robots pick, package, and dispense individual doses of pills. Machines assemble doses onto a thin plastic ring that contains all the medications for a patient for a 12-hour period, which is barcoded. Nurses use barcode readers to scan the medication at patients’ bedsides, verifying it is the correct dosage for the patient. The automated system also compounds sterile preparations of chemotherapy and non-chemotherapy doses and fills IV syringes or bags with the medications.
After years of adding everything from beauty products to snack foods, pharmacies have a new revenue source. Pharmacists are being asked ― and paid by insurance companies ― to monitor their customer’s health. That could include counseling them on chronic diseases, making sure they are taking their medications, and screening for everything from diabetes to high cholesterol. Although pharmacists have been doing more than dispensing pills over the past decade, this is the first time many have been able to offer such a wide range of medical services. This is due to changes in the way that pharmacists are educated along with legislative changes that have cleared the way for an expanded role.
Pharmacy automation is becoming commonplace in many healthcare facilities including point-of-care medication dispensing devices located on nursing units Pyxis Machineand in other acute care areas, controlled substance dispensing and tracking systems, centralized robotic dispensing devices, and similar devices to support ambulatory care.
In response to patient demand, hospitals are integrating complementary and alternative medicine services with the conventional services they typically provide according to a survey released last fall by Health Forum, the American Hospital Association subsidiary that publishes Hospitals and Health Networks. According to the survey, 37 percent of responding hospitals indicated they offer one or more complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) therapies, up from 26.5 percent in 2005. CAM is not based solely on traditional Western allopathic medical teachings and may include acupuncture, homeopathy, herbal medicine, and massage therapy, along with diet and lifestyle changes. The focus is to treat the whole person — body, mind, and spirit.