Supporting safe, efficient and connected prescribing across Lancashire

By using our electronic prescribing and administration (ePMA) system in all 40 of their inpatient mental health wards, Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust has been recognised as a leading provider when it comes to e-prescribing.

With the recent announcement of a £75 million government fund to help hospitals implement electronic prescribing systems, Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust has proven themselves to be ahead of the curve. Having recently implemented our ePMA system across all nine of their sites dedicated to mental health, they’ve already garnered recognition from the NHS for the extensive and innovative way in which they’re using their new system.

“As a mental health trust that covers a large geographical area, ePMA has meant that people can access the system from anywhere,” comments Amanda Parkinson, lead pharmacist. “The accessibility has been a huge step forward.”

4 hours saved by consultants each month

Saving hours every month with efficient electronic prescribing

Now that staff across the trust have the ability to instantly access and update information, they’re working more efficiently. As Amanda explains, “We found that we were saving four hours of every consultant’s time each month that was previously spent on rewriting drug charts. That four hours is now focussed on patient care.

One of the biggest things that has changed is the ability to review drug charts during a medicines round. It means the rest of the world can carry on, des­pite doctors being in the ward. From a nurse’s perspective, they have more information at their fingertips and can easily check that everyone has had their medication. They’re not having to chase doctors and script cards all over the hospital – they can now give medicines at any time.”

“There have been time savings for all professional groups that use the system. There are also fewer medication errors related to prescribing since there are no longer things that are illegible.”

Amanda Parkinson, lead pharmacist

Reducing errors to make care safer

Going paper-free has meant that information is clearer and simpler to understand – something which has saved pharmacists time since they no longer have to transcribe. This clarity around medications has helped to reduce errors too, particularly since staff no longer have to decipher handwritten notes.

The trust has coupled these capabilities with automatic allergy alerts that ensure patients can’t be prescribed potentially dangerous medications. Altogether, it’s supporting staff to deliver more accurate and effective treatment.

Connecting care across locations and disciplines

The instant access to information is additionally helping healthcare professionals across Lancashire to work closer with their colleagues. It’s an advantage that’s been shared with GPs and dentists who provide a service to the trust, as they’ve been given access to the ePMA system. Now, “If a GP is miles away from the inpatient site, they can see what’s going on and have the flexibility to understand what medications patients are taking,” explains Amanda.

“It means that people can view drug charts from 30 miles away. It’s been a real advantage to us.”

James McDonough, chief pharmacy technician – IT systems

With plans to roll-out our ePMA system to community workers within the next 12 to 18 months, it’s hoped that care can become even more integrated. For Amanda, the benefits of this are two-fold. “The first thing is, if clinicians are on call, they can see what’s been prescribed,” she explains. “The second is that they can make accurate assessments and discharge them.” Lyndsay Cameron, clinical nurse and lead on the ePMA project also expects this to help care programme approach (CPA) co-ordinators, as they’ll be able to more easily keep up to date and plan based on patients’ past treatment.

“Having an electronic system provides a level of flexibility that you just don’t get with paper,” sums up Amanda.

An enthusiastic uptake

While each ward’s ePMA implementation initially took four members of staff three weeks to complete, by the end of the year-long project, the process has been cut down to two wards per week – with just two members of staff.

Part of this speed up was down to staff enthusiasm. As Lyndsay explains, “When the staff realised the benefits of ePMA, they were requesting to get it implemented quicker.”

After running ‘lessons learnt’ sessions once the deployment was over, the trust found that the level of enthusiasm that staff had shown during implementation was still going strong. Attended by teams from across disciplines, Amanda comments on how “The sessions were overwhelmingly positive. There was very little that anyone was complaining about.”

“Universally, everyone felt it was a really positive step for the trust. There were no regrets about going down the ePMA route.”

Amanda Parkinson, lead pharmacist

The trust is now looking to share these results with others in the future. As Amanda details, “We’re working with partner organisations on how ePMA can be expanded to benefit even more people.”