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How connected medication management can reduce burdens

How connected medication management can reduce burdens

Dipak Duggal, director, medical affairs, international dispensing, and prep tech at BD, discusses the current barriers preventing hospitals from utilising connected medication management (CMM). 

The NHS employs c.1.2 million people, and at present 1:12 posts are vacant.[1] Around £27 million worth of hospital inventory is discarded worldwide each year,[2] and a staggering 237 million medication errors occur in the United Kingdom each year.[3] Despite healthcare systems spending on technology to reduce these errors, there has only been a decrease by 7% industry-wide in the UK to date.[4]

Automation and interoperability has the potential to ease burden on staff, reduce medication errors and improve hospital inventory. According to industry experts, the problem lies in the gaps between isolated systems and processes. So how can Connected Medication Management (CMM) help this critical issue facing healthcare?

CMM – a picture of the entire medication pathway

With an integrated and interoperable approach, CMM solutions provide a comprehensive picture of the entire medication pathway, resulting in increased visibility, efficiency, and crucially, patient safety. From pharmacy to the patient’s bedside.

At a recent panel discussion held at the Clinical Pharmacy Congress (CPC) in London, some leading healthcare experts discussed how CMM can reduce hospital pharmacy burdens.

Francine De Stoppelaar, director of pharmacy at Cleveland Clinic London, discussed how the Clinic’s fully integrated, automated patient health management system is the future of healthcare.

Cleveland’s collaborative team approach is an example of a hospital fully embracing medtech innovation. The London clinic produces single unit doses of medication with a unique barcode that can be read at the patient bedside prior to administration. The real-time clinical support contributes to patient safety, operational productivity and reducing waste. It also supports a paperless environment, being completely digitised – not having to worry about transcription errors.

Cleveland Clinic aims to reduce bedside medication administration errors by controlling medication dispensing and bedside checks in this way. The Clinic is aiming to tackle morbidity, readmissions, and returns to theatre, as well as pharmaceutical wastage.

Francine added that the ‘closed loop medication administration system’ ensures the Clinic can always adhere to, ‘The 6 Rights of Medication’: right patient, right medication, right dose, right route, right time, and right documentation.

Delving into the data

Being able to fully utilise data has the potential to revolutionise how healthcare is delivered. It can offer professionals precise and actionable insights, and allow them to provide personalised, high-quality care. Yet, there is currently no national data set to measure medication errors.

Rachel Elliott, professor of Health Economics, University of Manchester, stressed that measures must be taken to ensure that the NHS can properly harness the power of data and realise these benefits on a wider scale.

Rachel has authored an industry-recognised report on economic analysis of the prevalence and clinical and economic burden of medication error in England, where she discussed that data linkage between errors and patient outcomes is essential to progress understanding in this area.[5]

The semantics of interoperability

Automation in healthcare has the power to generate huge amounts of data in seconds, and therefore can remove siloes through better data sharing and connectivity.

Stefan Soloman, product manager, HIT Connectivity & Software Solutions, EMEA, BD, added that the technology and systems are all there, it is now just a case of joining them up.

He discussed the semantics of interoperability in the NHS, saying that our health service is notorious for its legacy tech, but in reality this is often not the barrier to interoperable, integrated systems. The true barrier is likely that many in our industry struggle to understand which technology is needed, and why.

This is why continued collaboration with a hospital’s IT teams, partners and technology providers, is crucial. Stefan went on to say that standardisation of any kind of technology in the healthcare sector will never happen without collaboration, and with the average hospital having 16 different informatics systems,[6] the only way to maximise the benefits of digital, is to have a planned implementation programme. Stefan suggested that we;

  1. Consider interoperability as a topic of discussion to engage partners, it should be the starting point of any transformation project
  2. Bring IT teams into talks right from the very start
  3. Ask partners for a proof of concept

The next 12 months – what can we expect from CMM?

So, as we look to put the pandemic behind us, What does the future hold for Connected Medication Management?

Islam Elkonaissi, senior lead clinical pharmacist Bone Marrow Transplant and Haematology, at Mayo Clinic and BOPA, stated that the pace of adoption for new technology has significantly ramped up since 2020, and this momentum must be maintained, as patient safety and risk prevention remain a top priority for healthcare professionals.

Automation and interoperability (Connected Medication Management) has the potential to reduce burden on staff, lower medication errors and improve hospital inventory. By working closely with all key partners, including IT teams and technology providers, we can build on the post-pandemic momentum and continue to implement safe, sustainable technological change across the NHS.

[1] Rolewicz L and B Palmer. NHS Workforce in numbers. Nuffield Trust. 2021. Available at:  Last accessed: June 2022

[2] European Association of Hospital Pharmacists. 2019 EAHP Medicines Shortages Report. EAHP. 2019. Available at:  accessed: June 2022.

[3] Elliott RA, Camacho E, Campbell F, et al. Prevalence and economic burden of medication errors in the NHS in England: Rapid evidence synthesis and economic analysis of the prevalence and burden of medication error in the UK. Manchester, United Kingdom: Policy Research Unit in Economic Evaluation of Health & Care Interventions (EEPRU); 2018

[4]Samal L, Dykes PC, Greenberg JO et al. Care coordination gaps due to lack of interoperability in the United States: a qualitative study and literature review. BMC Health Services Research. 2016; 16(1).

[5] Elliott RA, Camacho E, Jankovic D, et al. Economic analysis of the prevalence and clinical and economic burden of medication error in England. BMJ Quality & Safety. 2020;30:96-105..

[6] Sullivan, T. Why EHR data interoperability is such a mess in 3 charts. Healthcare IT News. 2018. Available at:  accessed: June 2022.