Evelina Children's Hospital has implemented a solution from Episys to dispense medicines to its patients at their bed sides, using wireless mobile portable printers which print the labels. Having the medicines at the bedside enables the hospital to discharge patients quicker and make use of any medicines the patients bring into hospital, which also has big implications for cost savings.
Evelina Children's Hospital opened in 2005 at Guy's and St. Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust in London, and currently has 140 inpatient beds (including 20 intensive care beds), five operating theatres, a full children's imaging service (including MRI scanner, general x-ray and ultrasound), a kidney dialysis unit and even a hospital school.
Typically at hospitals, the vast majority of dispensing and preparation of medicines takes place in the main dispensary in the pharmacy which is always isolated from the main wards. As a result, there can often be a great deal of time involved in transferring medicines and supplies. However, at the Evelina Children's Hospital, there are specialised dispensing areas in the drug rooms which are based on the wards, and so everything can be dispensed at ward level and delivered directly to the patient's bedside.
While more and more doctors now use mobile computers, the hospital itself had no mobile system for drugs dispensing and labelling. In response, it investigated different trollies and labellers that would assist with its needs, and then contacted various companies to see exactly what was available on the market. It soon became clear that there was only one system that would cater for its label sizes.
Upon contacting Episys, the global information technology company provided the hospital with further information on its labelling system and specifications, and detailed its training procedures and how to install the system. When the hospital initially received the required funding from the Evelina Children's charity, it decided to conduct a trial in one area of a ward, meaning it had to contact its IT systems and ward management departments. This was a whole multi-disciplinary approach, with the initial trial period running for three months. The hospital then surveilled work on a ward where it didn't have a system, with a ward where it did have a system, in order to compare results before and afterwards.
William Thornhill, Principal Pediatric Pharmacist at Evelina Children's Hospital, comments: "We used this period to note any problems, or anything other users such as nurses and doctors thought of the service, as well as patients. All in all, it was very positive feedback from all areas of this system."
On a day-to-day basis, doctors or nurses visit each and every patient's bedside. If the patient arrives and they need medicines, their details are entered and a label is created via the hospital's pharmacy system. This label is then printed and attached to the relevant bottle. It works with a technician and a pharmacist team, so everything is effectively double checked for accuracy.
One of the main benefits of the Episys solution is the ability to re-label medicine bottles that the patients themselves bring to the hospital with them. All of these labels are printed out on the mobile printer at the bedside of the patient, which has completely changed the way the hospital works patients are now actively involved in the entire process and have a hands-on approach which enables them to see what hospital staff are doing.
William Thornhill comments: "The patients can see that we're doing something for their benefit and it especially highlights any problems that they may have or any misconceptions or misunderstandings about the medicine, so we can deal with it on a one-to-one basis at their bedside. Every patient and every parent is different in how they understand and how they deal with their medicine, so by actually dispensing and labelling and preparing medicines at their bedside, we can go through all of this in a specially catered way."
The patients can also take home with them the re-labelled medicines if need be, which has big implications for cost savings - as in the past, this may have proved very expensive. This labelling ability also speeds up the entire discharge process because the medicines are already there at the bedside with the patient, so it's purely a matter of them being 'ticked off' against the final discharge letter.
Future and support
The Evelina Children's Hospital is now looking to implement the Episys solution onto the second and third wards at different stages in subsequent months, subject to obtaining the required funds.
William Thornhill continues: "Episys not only came on-site and helped us to install the printers, but it also provided excellent training and a strong support network. Episys also helped us with any initial problems, such as connectivity to our IT systems and the practicalities of setting up the labels and the labellers. The service provided from Episys has been really good, and I would be more than happy to work with them in the future."