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

Provided by Altera Digital Health, the ePMA is part of the trust’s Sunrise electronic patient record (EPR), which went live in June 2021. The new deployment will help to improve patient flow and safety.

Doctors and nurses working across more than 50 adult inpatient wards across two hospital sites, two emergency departments and a specialist oncology centre, can now automatically order medicines through Sunrise. This means they no longer need to make a physical visit or call the pharmacy to prescribe.

Israr Baig, associate pharmacy director at Gloucestershire Hospitals, 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.” 

He continued: “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.”   

The system allows clinicians to see where they are in the prescribing process, via the tracking boards. This information is available from admission to discharge, and by role and task. Remote access also means that important checks can be done from anywhere.

In addition, the ePMA implementation meant Gloucestershire Hospitals was able to move to electronic discharge summaries, improving timely communication with GPs and supporting early discharge.

Dr Paul Downie, chief clinical information officer and chief clinical safety officer at Gloucestershire Hospitals, said: “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.”

Less than four years ago, Gloucestershire Hospitals had the lowest digital maturity rating for a trust of its size – rated 0.02 by HIMSS in November 2019. It has now set its sights on reaching HIMSS Stage Six as quickly as possible, which involves having 25% of its medications administered and managed under a fully digital system by 2024.