Prescribing goes digital at NNUH
The new Electronic Prescribing and Medication Administration (EPMA) system has been fully rolled out to all inpatient wards at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital.
The system, which makes paper drugs charts a thing of the past, involves creating and maintaining an electronic record of a patient’s prescriptions and medicines whilst they are in hospital. This enables doctors, nurses, pharmacists and other clinical staff to access details contained within the drug chart digitally from the ward but also remote locations including the hospital pharmacy.
Pharmacy Technician Stuart Setchell, who has been working on the Electronic Prescribing and Medication Administration system (EPMA) project, said: “A lot of people need to look at drug charts to either prescribe, administer, supply or review a patients medicines. In the past this involved people having to go to wards to view or write on a drug chart. Now they are electronic it will save a lot of time as they can be accessed from anywhere across the hospital. This is particularly useful for the nursing staff as the chart used to be taken to the pharmacy, which could take several minutes if you were to walk from one end of the hospital to the other.”
The system is accessible via dedicated laptop trolleys which nurses take around the ward and use to administer the correct medicine at the patient’s bedside and doctors also use this to prescribe and review the drugs. There is no longer any need for prescriptions to be handwritten on paper drugs charts, removing any potential difficulties with reading a colleague’s writing. The required fields on the digital system also ensure that all necessary information is provided before a prescription can be saved.
A joint bid from the NNUH and James Paget University hospital was successful in securing £1.743m of funding for the project from the Safer Hospitals, Safer Wards Technology Fund sponsored by the Department for Health. The strategic implementation of the project was overseen by a collaborative team from both hospitals including pharmacy, nursing and medical leads.
A project team of specialist pharmacists managed the implementation of the new system providing training and support during the initial implementation and as more wards were brought on to the system. Paediatrics and obstetrics were the final inpatient areas for the system to be deployed and teams in these areas are already seeing positive results in terms of efficiency.
Emma Dolman, Matron for Children’s Services at the NNUH said ‘Staff on the paediatric wards have embraced the new electronic system designed to streamline processes and the administration of medications. Patients and their families have also been interested in the new technology and how it is designed to support their care whilst with us in hospital.’
There are also plans to introduce further developments to the system over the coming months including adding prescribed fluids.
Helen Willimott, EPMA Project Manager said ‘This has been a really exciting project for the Trust and now EPMA is fully rolled-out to all inpatient wards we’re looking forward to realising the positive impact that the system has had in its early stages across the hospital. We’ve had some fantastic feedback from staff, patients and family members in terms of the system benefits for patients and the efficiency of pharmacy services as a result.’