Birmingham’s Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust has started to roll out a JAC e-prescribing system across all three of its acute-care sites.

The project, which JAC claims is the largest of its kind in the UK, will see company’s Electronic Prescribing and Medicines Administration (EPMA) system deployed to cover 1,800 beds and all the wards and theatres at Heartlands, Solihull and Good Hope hospitals.

The project will deliver tools for managing both inpatient and to-take-out medicines and will be integrated with the JAC Pharmacy Management System, which has been in use at the trust for a number of years.

It will also incorporate the Multilex Drug Data File from First Data Bank Europe to enable users to check for drug-drug interactions, duplicate therapies and drug allergies.

Trust electronic prescribing manager, Niall Poole, said: “E-prescribing minimises the risk of medication errors in many ways; from the very basic, such as producing legible prescriptions to the very advanced, such as drug interaction information at the point of prescribing.”

The trust started an electronic prescribing programme in 2003. Heartland Hospital’s thoracic surgery ward was chosen for the initial deployment, because it was a relatively closed environment. Poole said the aim was to prove the safety benefits of the EPMA and to explore its impact on staff.

“We quickly saw the benefits of better accuracy and clarity of prescriptions, reduced paperwork and better audit trails,” he said. “Staff warmed to the system, especially nurses, as they were able to administer medicines at the patient’s bedside, using laptop computers on the trust’s wireless network.”

The initial EPMA deployment ran for two years, after which it was rolled out to a further seven wards and theatres and then across Heartlands Hospital. It is now being deployed trust wide. The implementation is due to be completely rolled out by June. A dedicated team of pharmacy and nursing staff has been created to manage the process.

The trust has also worked with JAC on a web-based tool to take information from the EPMA system and present it to ward pharmacists, microbiologists and other frontline staff, so they can see what medication has been prescribed and where checks or other interventions may be needed.

“Without e-prescribing in place, this level of information would not be available,” Poole said. “It would simply be impossible to collate the data every morning from paper based systems.

“Using the information from the JAC system, the web pages help senior staff to quickly assess the situation on a ward, and to get rapid access to the patients’ EPMA records, lab results and the trust’s electronic patient record system.”

Further plans include the deployment of the EPMA system to out-patients. JAC is a leading supplier of medicines management solutions to the NHS and says its UK-user base now accounts for around half of all NHS trusts in England. It also has sites in Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, Ireland and South Africa.

Robert Tysall-Blay, JAC’s chief executive, said: “The majority of hospitals are still using paper-based prescribing systems, so it is encouraging to see that trusts are realising the benefits that e-prescribing can offer, notably improved patient safety and overall medicines management.”

Link: JAC