Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has gone live with an electronic prescribing and medicines administration system from JAC.

The trust has implemented the system in two of its wards, with plans to cover the entire 1,100-bed trust and the neighbouring James Paget University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, which has another 600 beds, over the next two years.

James Paget is also replacing its pharmacy management system as part of the project, which began in March last year and saw its first implementation in October.

The system could save £1m over the next three years, according to James Harris, EPMA lead and project manager at Norfolk and Norwich, because of reductions in medicine wastage, length of stay and better formulary control.

The trust has a specific target to save 1% of its drug budget, or £150,000, over three years through waste reduction.”

Cost-savings are an essential part of the programme as it is part-funded via the government’s ‘Safer Hospitals, Safer Wards: Technology Fund’, which requires trusts to provide match funding. Norfolk and Norwich and James Paget received £1.7 million from tech fund 1.

Harris told EHI News that measuring savings could be an “abstract process”; although the trusts will be supported by JAC’s benefits realisation tools and consultants, who will evaluate the impact of the EPMA and report back to NHS England.

The move to a new EPMA system was necessary as part of the government’s plan to create a ‘paperless’ NHS by 2018, Harris added.

JAC has worked Norfolk and Norwich since the 1990s. The new system will be used to ‘close the loop’ between a doctor issuing a prescription on the ward, the drugs being dispensed, and nurses administering them to a patient.

The software will also offer decision support. Harris said the potential benefits of the system were “massive”, particularly with regards to improved patient safety.

He said that since being piloted at the trust in October 2014, the system had identified 40 incidents of penicillin being prescribed to patients with allergies.

“In the past, nurses would have likely identified those issues but we are now able to cut those off at the source,” said Harris.

Technical problems have been minimal. In a statement issued by JAC, Carol Farrow, chief pharmacist at Norfolk and Norwich said: “It was remarkable on go-live day to see one ward live at 7am and to hear the nursing staff at 8.30am say that they could already see how much time they would be saving. It was such an amazing and positive thing to witness.”

Norfolk and Norwich has made other drives towards efficiency in recent years, including a £3.3m contract with Fujifilm for a new picture archiving and communications system that was agreed in 2011.

Two years previously, the trust updated its Pathways Patient Administration PAS to operate from a modern hardware platform with an up-to-date database and application software.