Electronic Medicines Management: solving pharmacy staff resource issues

East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust (East Sussex) was facing problems with pharmacy staff resource at ward level due to pharmacists and technicians spending too much time in the dispensary.

East Sussex has used the EMIS Health Pharmacy solution since 2004. In order to deal with increasing delays in dispensing, they upgraded their solution to the EMIS Health Electronic Medicines Management (eMM).

Taking Pharmacy to the ward

One of the main causes for the delays in dispensing was the trust’s use of a paper based system at ward level. Due to human error and the physical restraints of using paper to transmit data, the pharmacy department was inefficient, therefore compromising patient safety.

With EMIS Health’s eMM web based solution, East Sussex pharmacy staff are now able to provide services direct to patients on wards and influence prescribing.

Amanda Isted, pharmacy operations manager, commented ““The use of eMM on the hand held tablets has completely changed the way the pharmacy service runs. Technicians can now record all information at the patient bedside and the discussions about their medicines can be documented, conversations which may not have previously reached the dispensary.

This has also empowered pharmacists to be able to prioritise patients, and the information fed back through to the dispensary means that any medicines that are required immediately can be seen and dispensed within minutes from the department.”

Leaner Pharmacy Process

The use of eMM enabled the trust to eradicate paper-related delays in the pharmacy process, as information inputted on the ward is available at the dispensary immediately.

Workflow of the dispensary is much steadier as continual input from the wards allowed the end of the day ‘catch up’ dispensing to be spread throughout the day. eMM also enables reporting on the workflow which enabled the trust to see where changes to the shift patterns needed to be made to avoid any significant downtimes.

“Pharmacists now spend minimal time in the dispensary; previously pharmacists were working through huge piles of paper in the pharmacy, now the vast majority are working at ward level. The eMM system is far more resilient - when there are staff shortages this hasn’t affected the process as now most of the work is done at ward level.”

Ian Bourns, clinical support clinical lead at East Sussex

Reduced Repetition

Now that medication information is recorded at patient bedside, there is no need to transcribe information again if a patient is readmitted.  Labelling information is now available within the system so this no longer needs to be duplicated, resulting in fewer incidents of omitted medicines.

EMIS Health’s eMM has a full electronic audit trail so pharmacists no longer need to repeat check prescriptions in the dispensary when they have already been checked on the ward.

By streamlining processes and digitising paper based systems, East Sussex is able to deliver safer, more effective care and pharmacy services to their patients.