Inpatient mental health wards at Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust have gone live with a computer system for staff to prescribe patients’ medication.

The trust plans to roll out Emis Health’s electronic prescribing and medicines administration system across all its inpatient wards by October 2016, replacing paper records and drug charts with a computerised process.

The project has been part funded by £500,200 the trust received from NHS England’s ‘Safer Hospitals, Safer Wards: Technology Fund’.

Emis Health is one of the market leaders for primary care clinical systems, but entered the e-prescribing market with its acquisition of Ascribe and its ePEX system for £57.5 million in 2013.

The 20-bed Scarisbrick unit at Ormskirk Hospital was the first ward at Lancashire Care to start piloting the system in July this year.

Since then the trust, which provides inpatient and community mental health services to a population of around 1.5 million people, has rolled out the system to five other units.

These include four wards at the trust’s secure mental health service Guild Lodge and the psychiatric intensive care unit at Ormskirk Hospital, which went live with the system as part of a recent reopening.

Speaking to Digital Health News, Amanda Parkinson, lead pharmacist at the trust, said Lancashire Care was now implementing e-prescribing at a rate of one ward every fortnight.

She said that the transition from paper to electronic prescribing has been smooth and that the response from staff has been very positive.

The switchover process involves going round the day before go-live and getting all the ward’s prescription charts on the electronic system.

Then on the first drug round on the day of go-live staff check to make sure what is on the paper is on the electronic system.

“As soon as that’s all confirmed we get the doctors to file the paper charts and work with the electronic system,” said Parkinson.

Parkinson explained that one of the benefits of Emis Health's system is that it is able to integrate with the trust’s pharmacy system, which is also provided by Emis Health.

“The pharmacy team can do clinical checks very easily because they can access [the system] and it automatically populates our dispensing system as well so you are ruling out transcribing errors.”

The e-prescribing system is able to pull patient demographics from the trust’s patient administration system CSC’s iPM, although it does not automatically feedback updated data to the PAS.

Parkinson said the trust could have spent more money to get this full integration, but decided against it as Lancashire Care is working on moving to a new electronic patient record and will consider interfacing with the e-prescribing as part of this process.

The trust is also looking to purchase an e-prescribing system for its community services, which Parkinson said will have to work well with the inpatient e-prescribing system.

“We are certainly looking for something that easily integrates into the system we already have. We can’t rule out other providers, but it needs to link with what we have.”

Emis Health's EPMA system is in use at several trusts in the country, including Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust, East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust and The Clatterbridge Cancer Centre NHS Foundation Trust, according to the Digital Health Intelligence database.