Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust goes live with Better Meds ePMA solution

Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust (OHFT) has successfully launched the Better Meds award-winning electronic prescribing and medication administration (ePMA) solution, in its bid to move forward to achieving a HIMSS digital maturity level 7 score.

As a Global Digital Exemplar, OHFT is adopting a best-of-breed approach to its digital transformation, seeking the best clinical systems to meet the Trust’s specific needs, underpinned by a cloud-based integration engine.

Implemented with support from CGI, the Better Meds solution is built on an openEHR platform which enables integration between the existing PAS and future systems, and facilitates a seamless link to OHFT’s pharmacy stock control system.
Across its six hospital sites, the Trust provides physical, mental health and social care for people of all ages across Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Swindon, Wiltshire, Bath and North East Somerset. Its services are delivered at community bases, hospitals, clinics and within people’s homes.

Mike Marven, Chief Pharmacist, Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Even in the very early stages of our implementation we are seeing a direct positive impact for clinical teams and patient safety. We have had excellent clinical engagement throughout the programme and this has meant that we can use ePMA as an enabler for clinical transformation rather than just replicating existing processes.”

OHFT carried out a pilot launch of Better Meds in July before undertaking a phased roll-out from September across 26 wards, with full implementation anticipated by March 2023.

Nicola Wilson, EPMA Programme Manager, Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We took the decision to adopt a phased roll-out in order to safeguard patient safety and to ensure that any teething problems could be addressed but it has gone incredibly smoothly; we are delighted. Our nurses took to Better Meds like a duck to water and even our agency nurses, who come in for occasional ad-hoc shifts, have found the system so easy.”

Despite only being operational for a few weeks, OHFT is already realising the benefits that Better Meds can provide, including: time savings, as staff no longer have to rewrite medication charts or manually input data on discharge; better access to data, as with on-call consultants able to review medication remotely meaning patients can get immediate access to the medications they require; and the streamlining of pharmacy processes.

The Better team worked with the trust to understand the specific needs that the trust had regarding its medications administration to ensure that the Better Meds system was configured to provide maximum benefit. This has included enabling photos to be added to patient profiles as an additional measure for agency staff to check they are treating the correct patient.

Lex Moon, Advanced Perinatal Specialist & Lead ePMA Pharmacist, Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust, added: “The feedback from all healthcare professionals has been positive both regarding the impact on their day-to-day roles as well as to patient safety. One pharmacist told me that they have already noticed, at this early stage, that there is a reduction in errors and blank boxes. Shadowing on medication rounds I have also seen first-hand that the time taken to complete the medications rounds has been noticeably reduced.”

“As many as 40% of our nurses can be agency staff and so they won’t always know the patients. Our dementia patients, in particular, are unable to confirm who they are and so this is an additional tool that has proved popular with these nurses.”

The go-live at OHFT follows a recent implementation of Better Meds at South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust. OHTF was followed by North Cumbria Integrated Care NHS Foundation Trust. All three trusts were part of the open systems and platform technologies procurement framework led by South London and Maudsley.

Christine Wadsworth, Clinical Safety Officer of Better for the UK and Ireland, said: ”We are delighted to be chosen by OHFT to provide our ePMA solution which marks a continuation of our support of mental health trusts across the UK. As a trust that is embracing cloud-based technology, OHFT is the perfect partner for Better Meds, mirroring our passion for open standards that place patients at the heart of the care they receive. Through our ePMA solution, we are committed to supporting OHFT to safely digitise its prescription processes whilst also providing improved access to data through the Better Meds integration across the trust’s various clinical systems.”

Donna Kelly, Senior Vice President, South & Midlands business unit at CGI, also stated: “We are delighted that the ePMA solutions has gone live at Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust, continuing the success we’ve been having implementing and supporting the Better product in the UK NHS market in recent years. Thereby growing the portfolio of NHS Trusts that CGI works with to enable improved, secure and safer healthcare provision in the UK. This implementation delivers significant improvements to patient safety and experience and supports the Trusts sustainability ambitions by switching from paper to digital.”

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