Technology to provide improved and safer quality of care developed at NHSCT
The Northern Health and Social Care Trust (NHSCT) and Yarra Software have recently signed a revenue sharing agreement in relation to a new ‘clinical intervention’ software, EPICS, (Electronic Pharmacist Intervention Clinical System) which was developed in conjunction with the School of Pharmacy at Queens University of Belfast.
In hospitals it is the job of the clinical pharmacists to ensure the safe and effective use of medicines. The medicine may not be having the required effect, the patients may be taking too much or too little, there may be adverse side effects or two medicines may interact adversely. If pharmacists discover problems with a patient’s treatment they carry out a ‘clinical intervention’ to ensure that the therapy will be effective and free from adverse effects.
“Traditionally, pharmacists have recorded their clinical interventions using site-specific paper-based systems. However, although they share some common attributes, the recording forms have never been standardised among healthcare Trusts,” said Peter Beagon, Senior Pharmacist, NHSCT.
The pharmacy staff at Antrim Area Hospital have automated the entire process of clinical intervention with the new bespoke EPICS software application. Now, pharmacists carry their pocket PCs loaded with the software so they can quickly and easily record their clinical interventions on a continuous basis and the software automatically generates monthly reports. In addition the latest enhancement will enable these interventions to be incorporated into the Trust Incident Reporting system thereby facilitating detailed analysis and subsequent learning from key medication–related incidents.
Professor James McElnay, Pro-Vice Chancellor and a member of the School of Pharmacy at Queen’s University said, “In developing the new system, we have put patient wellbeing and safety at the heart of clinical pharmacy services within the hospital. EPICS is undoubtedly a major technological advance in providing optimal patient care.”
Professor Mike Scott, Head of Pharmacy and Medicines Management, NHSCT, said, “We want patients to make the best recovery they can and making sure their drug regime is effective is paramount to us. This new system allows us to minimise the risk of avoidable harm to patients and also maximise the benefits of their drug therapy.”
The software is a result of six years collaboration between the Trust and Yarra Software and is a world’s first; it is attracting attention from as far away as Saudi Arabia, Germany and Sweden. Michael Martin, Business Development Director at Yarra Software said “EPICS shows public-private partnerships can work and deliver significant returns both in terms of patient benefits and financial efficiency.”
Dr David Brownlee from Health and Social Care Innovations said “The collaboration between industry and health demonstrates the value of working with the clinical base in developing new product and technology opportunities for healthcare. These products can help to secure real improvements in healthcare practices locally (HSC), nationally (NHS) and globally.”