eMM ranks highly for patient safety but complex to implement

An ad hoc survey carried out by acute care software specialist InterSystems of 30 Australian hospitals shows that most are currently deploying or are planning to implement electronic medication management (eMM) systems, but complexity and interoperability requirements are significant barriers.

InterSystems, which markets a hospital information system with medication management capabilities, surveyed attendees from 26 public hospitals and four private hospitals at March's Electronic Medication Management Conference in Sydney and found that while all expected eMM to lead to increased patient safety, 60 per cent cited complexity or cost of interoperability as a significant barrier to deployment.

The survey found that all but one were deploying or planning to deploy eMM systems, and in addition to increasing patient safety, the majority expected eMM to improve productivity and efficiency. However, lack of funding was cited as a key barrier to deployment, along with the need to interoperate with another 12 systems on average.

The survey found that of the features of an eMM system that contributed to patient safety:

  • 93 per cent said accurate, current medication lists
  • 87 per cent said interaction (drug/allergy) checking
  • 83 per cent said convenient access to contextually relevant drug information
  • 80 per cent said medication reconciliation
  • 77 per cent said dosage alerts.

In terms of barriers, change management issues and difficulty in gaining clinical adoption were cited by about half of respondents, but the big barriers were lack of funding and the complexity or cost of interoperability.

When asked how many other systems eMM would need to interoperate with, 47 per cent of hospitals said 5-10 systems and 20 per cent said 15-20 systems, with the average number around 12.

See the July issue of Pulse+IT for case studies on the implementation of different eMM systems in several hospitals in Victoria.

Posted in Australian eHealth

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