Dr Barbara Arroyo, interim chief clinical information officer at South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust (pictured below), recently spoke at the 2023 Better Meds Conference in London. Here, she discusses how Electronic Prescribing and Medicines Administration (ePMA) can revolutionise mental health care for improved patient outcomes
Electronic Prescribing and Medicines Administration systems are helping to make health services more efficient at the same time as enhancing patient care
In the realm of mental health care, a comprehensive and holistic approach is vital.
Care needs to encompass not only mental health, but also physical health, social circumstances, social care, and regard to adherence to mental health law.
To unlock the potential for better patient outcomes, it is imperative to leverage information systems that consolidate data at the point of care, fostering collaborative decision-making and expedited access to critical information.
And electronic prescribing and medicines administration (ePMA) platforms are at the forefront of this, offering immense benefits for mental health practitioners and patients alike.
Within mental health, ePMA is a powerful tool for enhancing continuity across various service lines and improving the safety and quality of medicines and clinical pathways.
However, it is often an underused resource, with mental health trusts often relying on paper-based systems despite the fact they have long been recognised as impeding the delivery of optimal care.
Paper records are prone to errors at the point of prescribing and transcribing, loss of charts when managed by several members of the multidisciplinary team, and workflow inefficiencies, making it challenging to maintain an up-to-date overview of patients’ complex needs, medications, and treatment plans.
Mental health trusts often rely on paper-based systems despite the fact they have long been recognised as impeding the delivery of optimal care
This reliance on paper-based processes leads to fragmented care, duplicated efforts, interruptions, and delayed interventions.
And it undermines collaboration, timely decision-making, and access to accurate information.
Additionally, compliance with legal frameworks such as the Mental Health Act becomes arduous and error prone.
As a result, mental health trusts, such as South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust, are recognising the need for transformative solutions to revolutionise medication management practices and prioritising the funding it requires.
Following extensive research, Better Meds ePMA emerged as the standout solution for South London and Maudsley.
The Better team took the time to truly understand the trust’s unique needs in the mental health sector.
And, in collaboration, we pulled together a project team that involved all relevant stakeholders from the outset, including nurses, doctors, pharmacists, digital services, and senior management.
This ensured we successfully achieved buy-in at all levels and ensured we received the input we needed to make the project a success.
We worked with Better to tailor the solution to our specific needs, including building in tagging for mental health medications in order to provide decision support and administration.
Better also worked with our other suppliers to ensure that consent is captured in line with Mental Health Act requirements and that it is also displayed appropriately within our electronic patient record (EPR).
We now have a system that supports the flow of data across the digital ecosystem within the trust and beyond.
Medications and prescriptions data is available within our EPR and is now shared across the Integrated Care System via the London Care Record.
South London and Maudsley’s ePMA deployment has facilitated real-time access to patient information, enabling all our clinical staff to have oversight of past and present prescribing and allowing them to make more-informed decisions about patient care.
By addressing the complexity of patient needs, fostering collaboration, enhancing safety, promoting integrated care, and optimising care quality, ePMA platforms like Better Meds are revolutionising the mental health landscape
It has eliminated frustrations associated with missing drug charts or illegible text, and it has enhanced workflow efficiency and the quality and safety of the care we provide.
It supports our multi-disciplinary teams to work asynchronously and co-ordinate efforts seamlessly.
This helps to minimise interruptions, duplication, and delays throughout the patient journey – from evaluation to medication prescription, supply, and monitoring.
Our staff have also experienced significant benefits from the ePMA system.
For example, pharmacy technicians have saved time by no longer needing to transcribe medications that are not in stock. They also save time as they no longer need to go to the wards to search for drug charts.
These efficiency savings have had a positive impact on productivity and job satisfaction.
The positive outlook regarding the new ePMA system speaks volumes about its success.
Staff have found the ePMA makes their working day easier and more efficient. It also improves the care they deliver by mitigating the occurrence of issues associated with transcribing errors and minimising delays on discharge, for example.
Furthermore, clinical safety is greatly improved by the audit trail within the ePMA.
In my opinion, the adoption of ePMA systems has ushered in a new era of mental health care, transcending the limitations of paper-based processes
It ensures transparency, accountability, and accuracy in documenting every step of the medication pathway.
This detailed record captures critical information, including medication decisions, dosages, and authorisations, facilitating thorough treatment plan reviews, investigations, and audits. And it aids and facilitates best practices and compliance with legal frameworks like the Mental Health Act, resulting in enhanced safety and wellbeing of our patients.
The transformative impact of ePMA systems in mental health care is undeniable.
By addressing the complexity of patient needs, fostering collaboration, enhancing safety, promoting integrated care, and optimising care quality, ePMA platforms like Better Meds are revolutionising the mental health landscape.
The adoption of these technologies enables patient-centred, efficient, and co-ordinated care that positively impacts patient outcomes and enhances the experiences of both patients and staff members.
In my opinion, the adoption of ePMA systems has ushered in a new era of mental health care, transcending the limitations of paper-based processes.
By leveraging these technologies, mental health trusts can optimise the medication pathway, promote collaboration, and ensure clinical safety.
And the result is improved patient outcomes and an enhanced healthcare experience for all involved.