E-prescriptions change the game for acute trusts

18 Feb 2015

Dr Shaun O’Hanlon, Chief Medical Officer, and Paul Thomson, market specialist in e-prescribing at Ascribe, part of EMIS Group, consider the game-changing benefits of e-prescriptions for acute trusts in this week’s issue of Health Service Journal – the UK’s most influential magazine for NHS managers.

In the latest article for the Resource Centre section of the magazine, they argue that seamless e-prescribing can help meet the Treasury’s targets for NHS savings. In fact, the evidence already exists on the huge cost and safety dividends for trusts. They give the example of a North West Trust where Ascribe’s e-prescribing solution has helped reduce prescribing errors by 66 per cent, and realise annual recurring savings of over £2m.

The systems trusts need

The article argues that to fully realise their ROI, trusts should ensure e-prescribing systems support seamless care where primary and secondary care cross over from GP referral or A&E admission, to acute care and home again.

No delay

O’Hanlon and Thomson say that with e-prescribing, there are minimal delays when patients are declared fit to return home, because their discharge prescription can be quickly dealt with – and there is no delay in follow-up treatment either, as the GP receives an e-discharge letter within 24 hours.

Pros and cons

The cost-cutting and clinical benefits of e-prescribing are many, not least the rich seam of drug data that it produces, enabling clinicians to look at local prescribing patterns for certain conditions and work out further cost savings.

But there are some challenges for trusts too, as O’Hanlon and Thomson point out. The e-prescribing system must be user-friendly with an intuitive interface – a basic requirement that is often overlooked when commissioning new technology. And staff must be properly trained to use it – an important issue for hospitals with their high turnover of junior doctors and agency staff.

Read the article in full here.