Health board approves use of £2.5m electronic prescribing and medicines administration system

A Scottish health board has approved the use of a £2.5m electronic prescribing and medicines administration system in a bid to improve patient safety.

The Hospital Electronic Prescribing and Medicines Administration (HEPMA) system is designed to replace existing paper-based systems at NHS Fife and make prescribing and administration processes more efficient, freeing up clinical staff to carry out face-to-face care.

Most medicines used in hospitals are still prescribed and administered using a paper-based chart system, and with the increasing range and complexities of medicines available the safe and effective prescribing and administration of medicines is increasingly challenging.

Decisions for individual patients will be improved by giving prescribers access to a complete medication prescribing and administration record containing up-to-date historical and current information. The HEPMA software will also improve patient safety by producing real-time alerts to inform prescribers of previous drug allergies or adverse drug reactions reported for the patient.

Electronic prescribing is the last major area of clinical information not available electronically and the new system will effectively ensure patients in Fife have a complete electronic health record.

Pending formal approval from Scottish Government, the implementation of HEPMA within NHS Fife will take around 36 months to complete across all hospitals in the  Kingdom. The cost to implement the system is £2.5m which will be delivered  over a three year period.

NHS Fife Medical Director, Dr Chris McKenna, said the development. “The approval of the business case is an important milestone in the development of an electronic prescribing system in our hospitals.

“The HEPMA system will enable greater control over what medicines are prescribed, how they are prescribed and how they are administered. The system will also enable the early identification of high-risk patients, allowing clinical staff to act much earlier in order to prevent patient from deteriorating.

“Crucially, as more and more patients are treated with complex therapies, the system will reduce the opportunity for human error and ultimately improve patient safety as a result. “