Electronic Medications – It’s Not Easy to Achieve: How Portland District Health Did It

Aug 15
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It’s 2015.The World Wide Web has been around for over 35 years.  When I put my bank card into almost any ATM in the world, it knows my account details instantly.  Yet my personal health record is fragmented, with pieces of information locked in different systems that can’t talk to each other.

Why is this so?

From paper-based to electronic records

Healthcare is one of the most innovative industries. Walk into any hospital and you observe an amazing array of technology – 128 slice CT scanners given 3D images, laser technology , fibreoptic systems for surgery, complex analysers in a pathology department.  Yet most documentation written by the clinical team to communicate with one another is on PAPER.  This renders the sharing of information difficult and increases risk to patient safety through lost documentation, misread handwriting, etc.

Medications management is known to be one of the biggest causes of adverse events for patients in hospitals, yet over 90% of the hospitals worldwide fail to take advantage of robust clinical decision making tools available via an electronic medication management system. Hospitals instead rely on the time poor, busy doctor to hand write a medication chart, who then passes it to the nursing staff to administer the medication – acting as the “safety net” to preventing an adverse event.

Handwritten medication orders worry hospital pharmacists, nurses and executives.  How long will it be before the next adverse event because someone misread or got the order wrong , how much harm will a patient suffer.

Nurses are busier than ever. Patients are higher acuity during their in-hospital stays.  Implementing an electronic medication system means nurses have the ability to set reminders, and readily see an overview of all patients that have been allocated medications so they can manage time appropriately and ensure medications are given to the right patient at the right time. Less time searching for data means they can spend more time with patients.

From hospital to home

Portland District Health is a rural health service in Victoria, with very limited access to pharmacists.  Yet we are able to review all patients medications, question prescribing in real time on the system, do timely medication reconciliation and monitor antimicrobial stewardship – all from the pharmacy. This is allowing time to be spent ensuring that patients understand the medications they are on at discharge, reducing readmissions.

As a patient, I can be confident that my GP will know exactly what I was prescribed on discharge, so she can better manage my care after I have left hospital, with no room for error or misunderstanding.

How has a local district hospital in rural Victoria been able to implement a full electronic medication management system with seamless interoperability with other care settings?  Come along to my presentation at the Transitioning to eMedication Management Systems conference to learn more.

medication safety

Submitted by Christine Giles

Christine Giles

Christine Giles is the Chief Executive Officer of Portland District Health in South West Victoria, prior to this she spent three years living in the Torres Strait working as a District CEO for Queensland Health. Chris has a strong clinical background as a nurse then midwife, which have proven very valuable in her recent executive roles. These executive roles include working in health care organisations in Western Australia, Victoria and Queensland.

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