A common projection of the future of healthcare usually depicts a Humans style android, programmed to provide care to its charge above all else. Of course, technology, although often awe inspiring and innovative, hasn’t quite caught up with the wild imagination of fiction. That said, technology is under huge growth within health and social care to improve processes, facilitate interoperability and aid better care delivery.

Medication management is an area where technology can streamline a process, reduce risk and leave staff with more time to provide care. The number of drugs prescribed by GPs has tripled since 2000, and in 2012 the number of prescription items dispensed in the UK topped one billion. With care home residents taking an average of 9.2 medications per day, the type of medication becoming increasingly complex and residents suffering from multiple conditions and needing intricate medication regimes; the risk of error reached 7 out of every 10 drugs administered in 2014.

Traditionally, recording the administration of medicine requires a Medication Administration Record (MAR chart) for each resident, which inevitably creates a lot of paperwork. Most electronic medication management systems offer eMAR (electronic Medication Administration Record) which eliminates the need for paper (happy environment!), allows staff to document medication administration along with observations and log these in an auditable manner. With the increasing focus on compliance and CQC inspections, having these technologies in place will make storing, accessing and reporting on medication management information faster and more accurate.

Here, we look in more detail at a few of the key benefits organisations can experience using technology to assist the management of medication within a care home:

Improve workflows

With widespread accessibility of smart devices and touchscreen technology, these can be used to integrate your medication process – health technology no longer means being tied to a computer station. Staff log in to the system using the smart device and a personalised set of credentials at the start of a medication round. Only the medications to be administered in that round are displayed on the mobile screen, accompanied by photo identification of each resident and useful directions to ensure ease of medication administration. This helps to safeguard against potential errors such as administering medication at the wrong time, or to the wrong resident. If medications are not administered within the allotted time or round, alerts will inform the user and enforce an exception note for missed medication which is logged in the audit trail.

Powerful Data

Data collected within the medication management systems can be reported on allowing trends in administration to be identified pro-actively, and medicines to be optimised effectively; for example if a resident has refused a tablet for three days running, the trend may identify difficulty in swallowing the tablet and allow for medicines intervention to change the tablet to an alternative form i.e. a liquid. The data can also be transferred between settings. If the resident is admitted to a hospital, their medical history can be passed quickly and legibly in a printed record form.

Benchmarking

Data and reporting are much easier and quicker with technology than paper. Medication management technology allows users to benchmark across individual or multiple sites by any historical time range to identify trends and poor/good practice.  Head office and management teams will have remote access which is not an option with standard MAR charts. For example; the use of PRN’s can be checked along with errors and omissions. The diligent systems allow for more transparency, allowing audits and CQC visits to see information at the touch of a button.

Management of Stock

An electronic medication management system gives you visibility of stock levels to ensure resident orders don’t run out. Using a medication management solution that interfaces with your pharmacy management system gives both the care home and pharmacy visibility of stock, and allows effective management of the medication process (ordering / dispensing / check in / administration / disposal). This helps safeguard against overstock (waste) and under stock (compromising resident safety). Care homes can send their medication order to the pharmacy electronically. The pharmacy can see any changes made to resident’s medication profile in real time. They can then order stock earlier rather than wait for prescriptions to be generated while care homes can order the following month’s medications later in the current cycle, improving accuracy.

There are many ways that technology can make your business more efficient, while reducing risk and giving staff more time to care.

Do you use technology to improve your medication process? What do you think the benefits are of the options available? Get in touch with one of the team today to discuss more; drop us a call on 01440 766 400 or email [email protected]