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New electronic medicines management a big change

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In a national first, MidCentral District Health Board is actively supporting the implementation of an electronic medicines management system to be installed in all of the district’s aged care facilities and associated pharmacies.

The new system, that promises to greatly improve on current manual processes, will provide significant benefits to all parties, and will promote patient safety, time savings, and reduced costs. Using the medicines management system, Medi-map, the medicine records of the facilities will be electronically linked via a shared web-portal with pharmacies and general practices. 

Current medicines management systems require the aged care facilities to carry around physical copies of each resident’s medicine chart. With the bigger homes this can require several bulky folders, with any change to a resident’s medicine meaning GPs have to cross out the old and write in the new.  Paper charts are faxed to the pharmacy for medicines to be packed and supplied for each resident.

With this electronic system, any change to a resident’s medicine will automatically be stored in the shared web-portal. When the nurses and caregivers at the facility begin their rounds, they will use a tablet computer to log into the system. When they select a resident on the computer the screen will bring up a picture of them, for verification purposes, along with a list of their medicines due to be taken at that time. As the GP has updated the medicine list, the facility’s staff will be looking at the very latest medicine list for the resident.

The third part of the equation is where the pharmacist comes in. As they are linked to the portal, they can take advantage of the ‘real time prescribing and dispensing’. When any change is made to a resident’s medicines list the pharmacy gets automatically notified and they can quickly organise the new medication for the resident and get it to the facility far faster than was previously possible.

There are many upsides of this new system. The key one is patient safety, with the electronic nature of the charts making them easier to read, which will help reduce medication errors. The instant nature of the updates also speeds the process, and ensures that the facilities are receiving the new medicines quicker. The electronic system means that prescriber’s intentions are much clearer to the rest home and the pharmacy, The GP, pharmacist and facility will all see time savings with the new system. Other benefits include less wastage of medicines and packaging, more information for the staff, and a simple user interface.

Anna Blackwell, General Manager of Feilding’s Ranfurly Residential Care Centre, the first facility to go live with the new system, has seen significant benefits.

She said: “It has been great – we are finding it is making administering medicines much safer and drawing staff’s practice to tighter processes.  We have had to make sure our wi-fi is top notch, but apart from that the staff can see how much better it is. All the staff have found the system easy to use and love it.”

Feilding GP and Clinical Director for the Central PHO Bruce Stewart recognises significant advances the new system brings.

He said: “Medi-map has been a major advance in simplifying the management of medicines between general practice, pharmacy and rest homes. It has removed the confusion and inaccuracy associated with multiple faxed drug charts and so greatly improved patient safety around medicines. Once the system fully integrates with our IT, it will be even more powerful as a quality improvement tool, and also a time saver in the practice.”

Pharmacist James Carroll from McCrae’s Pharmacy in Feilding is enjoying the easier communication that the system brings.
He said: “Medi-Map is proving to be a great product. There are no issues with charts being illegible, and everyone is using the same set of information as it is a ‘live’ cloud-based programme. There are also no potential communication issues when a faxed chart hasn’t been received by or sent to the intended recipient.”

MDHB Portfolio Manager, Health of Older Persons Jo Smith says that MDHB has contributed toward the set-up costs to help support community facilities in improving their medicine management systems.

She said: “This new system is unlike anything we’ve had in the district before. After talking with aged care providers, pharmacists, and general practitioners, it is apparent that the current paper chart system has created significant safety risks. I have heard many facilities express their interest in this sort of system, but for some the initial cost was a hurdle. At MDHB we aim to improve patient safety in all areas of care, and that is why we have decided to contribute toward implementation costs.”

Security is also a high priority when dealing with sensitive information in an electronic system. The system has a high level of security, and every person who has access uses an individual ID, meaning that any changes can be traced back to who made them. In addition, logging into the system requires two factor authentication, meaning that once someone enters their password they are electronically sent a unique code which they must input before they can sign in. 

While some aged care facilities in other DHBs have implemented the system themselves, MidCentral DHB is the first to provide funding toward the set-up for every one of the district’s facilities and their associated pharmacies.

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