Improving medicines management is vital says Health Minister

Effectively managing medicines, so that patients receive the correct medicine at the correct time can not only help them return to good health more quickly, reducing the time spent in hospital, but can also prevent unnecessary hospital admissions. This is the focus of a Northern Health and Social Care Trust two day international Conference on 17-18 January, titled Quality + Safety = Improvement + Efficiency.

The Northern Trust’s Integrated Medicines Management (IMM) model, which considers all aspects of medicines use is seen as a world leader. It has been developed, enhanced and extended over the last ten years and adopted in other Trusts not only in the United Kingdom but also in the South of Ireland, Sweden and the Netherlands. The Conference is an exciting opportunity for leading figures in medicines management from throughout the world to share research and best practice and consider how they will implement new ideas in their own settings to improve care and efficiency. The keynote speaker is Frank Federico an Executive Director of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI), Boston USA.

The Northern Trust’s Medicine Management model has been shown to significantly improve the appropriateness of medicines use – making sure patients get the medication they need when they need it and also don’t continue to take medications they no longer require. As a result a safer service is provided which should help patients recover more quickly, reducing the length of hospital stays and the likelihood of needing to be readmitted. This supports the principles of the current Transforming Your Care consultation by helping patients remain at home as long as possible.

The Northern Trust’s Medicines Management systems also make sure that the most appropriate member of the healthcare team, often the pharmacist, considers medicines management issues. This can free time of other staff such as doctors and nurses. Communication is greatly improved as pharmacists are involved in all aspects of a patient’s journey through hospital from admission to discharge. This helps staff know what medication a patient is taking before coming to hospital and makes sure they have the most appropriate medicine to continue their treatment at home. The Conference is considering how care can be better integrated as the patient moves from hospital into primary care such as in a nursing home, community hospital or in their own home. The role of pharmacists as prescribers in a range of clinical settings is also being examined.

Currently, after staff salaries, medicine is the biggest cost for the Health Service, therefore using them efficiently is essential. Whilst cost savings are not the primary focus of medicines management initiatives, the introduction of such services usually results in savings through appropriate use of resources.

Many of the developments being considered at the Conference involve the use of new technology and the Northern Trust has been involved in creating several new systems. New bedside lockers for medications, which are used instead of the traditional medicine trolley, have improved the safe delivery of medicines on wards and made medication more readily available when needed. New software systems have also been developed that allow pharmacists to record and monitor how they improve patient care.

Speaking at the Conference Prof Mike Scott, Head of Medicines Management in the Northern Trust said, “This Conference gives a great opportunity not only to demonstrate the work that has been undertaken with respect to both medicines management and associated technology within the Northern Trust, but also to learn from international experience in this area and so lead to further developments which will help us provide the best service to our patients and clients.”

Over 100 delegates are attending the Conference from throughout the world including service managers, policy makers and healthcare professionals.

28th January 2013

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