Herefordshire and Worcestershire Health and Care NHS Trust has completed the implementation of a recent electronic prescribing and medicines administration (ePMA) in record time, improving patient safety, delivering cost savings and supporting new models of care as a result.

Over a period of 10-weeks the community and mental health trust deployed the Better Meds ePMA solutions, initially going live in a six-bed pilot ward, before implementing the solution in a 28-bed ward.

The initial six-bed pilot in a specialised end-of-life care ward allowed the trust to rigorously test prescribing regimes and the capabilities of the software.

The solution was then extended to a 28-bed rehabilitation ward, where different requirements were needed – for example, the ability to transcribe complex paper drug charts into the software.

The trust signed with Better back in March last year for the ePMA. The project was able to push forwards at great speed in spite of an earlier, unrelated setback due to a significant EPR and PAS outage.

Ian Douglas, EPMA clinical engagement lead at Herefordshire and Worcestershire Health and Care, said: “The Better team took the time to understand our requirements and what we were trying to achieve at the trust.

“Having the Better team available when we needed them was incredibly reassuring. They’ve been a constant source of support, offering guidance and expertise whenever needed. What sets them apart is their commitment to transparency and open communication.”

Since implementation Herefordshire and Worcestershire has seen a number of benefits. Patient safety has been improved, while a reduction in paper use has also been evidenced. In addition, the electronic solution is making considerable time savings through automation.

The solution is also reducing the need for on-call GPs and supporting new models of care within the trust. It enables clinicians to log-in to the system from any location, discuss with an on-site nurse and make decisions on prescriptions and care plans remotely. This model of care means fewer on-call GPs and consultants are needed, helping to free up clinician time to focus on patients.

The OpenEHR-based Better Meds ePMA solution allowed the trust to create order sets, with advice and help from Better, to support Patient Group Directives and Simple Meds. In the future, the trust will expand this to include mental health medication regimes.

To further streamline processes, the trust also opted to run the ePMA as a separate system from its EPR.

Stefan Siekierski, delivery director at Better said: “The rapid implementation at Herefordshire and Worcestershire is a true testament to the hard work and dedication of the project team, ultimately leading to improved patient care and streamlined workflows.”

He continued: “We believe in advancing the digital maturity of the sector to enhance patient care and experience and will look for opportunities to help other trusts at outreach events to benefit the broader healthcare community.”

So successful was the ePMA roll-out that the trust has now decided to bring forward the implementation plan for all of its seven community hospitals, with the bold ambition to have the plan completed by October 2023.