Great Western Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has rolled out inpatient e-prescribing in eight months, with just under £1 million of tech fund support.

The hospital in Swindon has implemented an electronic prescribing and medicines administration system from JAC, which also provides its pharmacy system.

The new EPMA is interfaced with the trust’s Medway patient administration system and electronic discharge system, with staff on 22 wards and other inpatient areas using tablet computers mounted on drug carts to access the information.

The trust was awarded £935,000 from the ‘Safer Hospitals, Safer Wards: Technology Fund’ – or tech fund 1 – to implement the EPMA, which builds on a prescription system that was already in place in outpatients.  

Emergency department patients have also been made visible within the system. Tom Keith-Welsh, the trust’s EPMA project manager, said: “We now have an IT system that directly supports patient safety with their medicines, which is fantastic news.

“We are currently undergoing a bedding-in period to optimise the system and give managers time to consider how to use the technology available to them.”

Keith-Welsh added that the team had “very tight deadlines” to assess, procure and implement the new set-up. “It took us just eight months, once we had access to the application, to build, test and then roll it out across the hospital,” he said.

However, he added that some benefits have already been delivered. The system has replaced handwritten charts, and includes some elements of decision support, with automatic warnings about allergic reactions, drug interactions, and access to prescribing guidelines.

“There has been a huge amount of work undertaken from the dedicated project team, working alongside an extended group of clinicians, nurses, ward clerks, trainers, IT support and hardware teams,” Keith-Welsh concluded. “They all came together to assess and resolve issues that came up along the way.”

Swindon was one of the first trusts to bring a high street chemist onto its site, and outpatient and emergency department patients given prescriptions have been able to pick them up from Boots since September 2013.