eMM - 5 Traps To Avoid

Implementing electronic medication management, or any clinical application for that matter, is a daunting task that can be fraught with danger. Where to begin?

A daunting task

Implementing electronic medication management, or any clinical application for that matter, is a daunting task that can be fraught with danger. Where to begin? Which solution to select? How to engage and with whom? Done well, these clinical systems can save patients from harm and our health systems from waste. Done badly, they can be a massive drain on resources, a pointless distraction, a source of frustration and potentially, even reduce the quality of care.


The good news is that many health facilities have now implemented these clinical systems and so, there is a growing body of learning to guide new implementations. Here are five traps to consider when planning your next health IT implementation.

1. Poor change management. Most clinical implementations and electronic medication management in particular, involve a great deal of change management. Unfortunately most of us don’t like change, so inevitably there will be people who prefer to continue working the same way they always have. Partial implementations are rarely successful and can introduce an element of danger, particularly in the case of mission critical systems like medication management. Leaders must walk the line between being responsive to input and also requiring use of newly implemented systems by all staff.


2. Inadequate clinical ownership. While all health IT implementations have a large technical component, the impetus for implementation is clinical. Electronic medication management is a clinical project facilitated by health IT. Clinicians therefore need to own the project from the beginning and to do so for the long term. In partnership with IT, clinicians need to direct adaptation of the system to local requirements.


3. Poor network performance. There is little point investing in a new system if the IT infrastructure is unable to provide the required performance. Poor network performance reflects negatively on the applications that run on it. Most users don’t distinguish between network and application performance, instead they will disengage and become sceptical about the system. When poor network performance impacts mission critical applications such as electronic medication management, harm is possible in addition to frustration and de-motivation.


4. Lack of bedside access. For users to utilise a system, they need to be able to access it as they work. Ideally this means making access available at the bedside. The new breed of bed-side touch screen units or portable devices such as the iPAD, will make this access easier for hospitals to provide in the future.


5. Convoluted workflows. Saving money by using work-arounds that require users to take additional steps is often counter-productive in the long-term. It is better to spend a little more upfront on configuration, to achieve the most efficient and logical workflow. This way, users can focus on adapting to the new processes instead of struggling to work around convoluted workflows.


Avoid these five traps, and there’s a good chance you’ll have engaged and supportive users and an appropriately configured system that delivers real clinical benefits for patients and staff, as well as greater organisational efficiency.


For more on the topic see the HIMSS (Health Information Management Systems Society) e-prescribing Wiki. While US focused, the Wiki is a useful collaborative forum for organisations implementing or considering implementing e-prescribing. Another US site that is worth a browse, is the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, click on the Electronic Prescribing link on the left hand side.


If you would like to know more about medication management, electronic prescribing or pharmacy solutions from CSC, follow the links to information on the website or contact us.