New technology for medicines management


Hopewood Park first mental health facility to deploy Omnicell system

Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust has invested in new automated medication dispensing cabinets and software to allow central pharmacy teams to manage the use of medication throughout Hopewood Park, a 122-bed in-patient care facility for adults with mental health problems in Sunderland.

Since installation 18 months ago, the new system, provided by Omnicell, has resulted in numerous benefits for the hospital including: a reduction in medicines wastage; release of clinical staff to deliver more patient-facing care; and improved patient safety - ensuring that the right patient receives the right dose of the right drug at the right time.

At the outset of the partnership, the trust worked in close collaboration with Omnicell UK to design lean processes to ensure the cabinets were in the most-appropriate locations, ensuring maximum benefit and return on investment for the organisation.

The priority was to ensure the right medicines were available on the wards whenever they were required, which has resulted in a marked reduction in reports from wards of non-compliance with omitted dose audit standards - a fall from 37.7% to 23%.

The Omnicell cabinets have also reduced the need for out of hours medicine supply from central pharmacy with the proportion of calls to emergency duty pharmacists relating to medicines supply falling by over 12%. As medicines are reordered automatically, this delivers a more-reliable and pro-active inventory management process, with ad-hoc orders falling from 77% to 25%. The cabinets have reduced the risk of concerns in relation to the safe and secure management of medicines as well as improving the audit trail, therefore incident investigations are considerably more accurate, timely and comprehensive.

The installation of the new system has resulted in numerous cost efficiencies for the trust. The hospital has seen an 11.7% reduction in drug spend based on 16-month like-for-like comparison, equating to a financial saving of £6,000 per ward per year. The leaner supply chain means stock wastage has fallen from 1% to 0% resulting in a further £6k cost saving and as controlled drug stock checks are an inherent part of the Omnicell administration process, staff time has been saved in the administration of controlled drug recording resulting in another £5,500 saving per ward per year. A reduction in controlled drugs incident investigations has also resulted in a saving of £20,000.

In addition, Hopewood Park hospital has seen a 71% increase in patient safety interventions by clinical pharmacy staff as they have been released from ‘manual’ medicines supply chain activities for greater involvement in patient-facing services – improving both the quality of care and patient experience.

Ewan Maule, deputy chief pharmacist at Northumberland Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We are delighted with the outcome of the project with Omnicell and the improvement in patient care that has been a result of the partnership. In fact, such is the success, there are plans to roll-out the new system to other hospitals within the trust, which when completed will cover over 50% of all our inpatient wards. This project has been successful largely due to the NHS England Innovation Funding we received and we are grateful at both the organisational and central confidence in the technology which has seen real savings.”

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Paul O’Hanlon, managing director for Omnicell, UK & Ireland, added: “Here at Omnicell we are familiar with the cost savings and efficiencies that our systems provide our healthcare partners. And, while this technology is becoming more commonplace in acute and emergency settings, this is the only such deployment in a Mental Health setting and provides a real confidence, evidence and precedent to other similar organisations. We very much look forward to working with them in the future.”