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Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust deploys ePMA solution to improve patient flow and safety



Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (GHFT) has gone live with electronic prescribing and medicines administration (ePMA), as the next step in the trust’s five-year digital transformation journey.

The Altera Digital Health solution was introduced as part of the trust’s Sunrise electronic patient record (EPR), also provided by Altera Digital Health.

As of February 2023, the system has been fully optimised, and the entire prescribing and administration process has been digitised.

This is across more than 50 adult inpatient wards over the two hospital sites, two emergency departments and a specialist oncology centre. It is already supporting improvements to patient safety, enhancing clinical workflows and improving patient flow.

With adult inpatient clinical and nursing documentation, observations and order comms already on Sunrise EPR, implementing ePMA was the most important next step in improving patient safety and reducing drug errors.

Driven by digital teams working alongside pharmacy and clinical specialists, integration with existing systems was key.

Israr Baig, Associate Pharmacy Director at GHFT said: “Improving patient safety by reducing errors was central to this go-live. Before ePMA was introduced, a drug may have been dispensed for a patient and sent to a ward, the item may be lost and re-dispensed.

“Now, there is a clear record of all supplies made to wards, preventing duplication significantly.

“Sunrise is integrated with EMIS, the Trust’s pharmacy supply interface, which removes the need for pharmacists and pharmacy technicians to transcribe between the two systems, reducing errors.” 

Doctors and nurses on the wards can also automatically order medicines through Sunrise, so they no longer need to make a physical visit or phone pharmacy to prescribe.

Israr continued:Each clinician can see where they are in the prescribing process by checking the tracking boards – from admission to discharge, by role and task.

“With remote access, we can carry out important checks and validations from wherever we are, if needed. And we can run reports to give us essential information on quality and safety, as well as supporting planning.”

As part of ePMA implementation, GHFT was able to move to electronic discharge summaries, meaning that timely communication with GPs has been instantly improved.

“This has also led to operational improvements to encourage early discharge now that medication discharge information is viewable on EPR.

“ePMA is one of the biggest digital changes we’ve introduced,” said Dr Paul Downie, Chief Clinical Information Officer and Chief Clinical Safety Officer at GHFT.

“As well as delivering safety benefits for our patients, it has enabled our operational teams to support early discharge.

“We know that discharges home are often delayed whilst patients wait for essential medications.

“Going digital has given us better visibility of who needs what and when – resulting in discharges earlier in the day and better flow through our hospitals.”

Despite having the lowest digital maturity rating for a trust its size less than four years ago, GHFT is now setting its sights on HIMSS Stage 6. This includes having 25 per cent of its medications administered and managed under a fully digital, or closed-loop system, by 2024.

Rachael Fox, Executive Vice President, UK & EMEA, Altera Digital Health said: “It has been a pleasure to work with the team at GHFT, which has gone from strength to strength on its digital journey.

“We are very pleased that Sunrise has been at the heart of this. Since initially going live with Sunrise in June 2021, the trust has brought about incredible change.

“We feel this shows that it is possible to quickly and safely deploy technology that is going to have an incredible impact on patient care.”

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