Australian-first: Blacktown Hospital prescriptions go digital

Blacktown Hospital Pharmacy director Amy Murray and WSLHD eMeds manager Liz Ellankil.

Patients will be out of hospital sooner thanks to a digital initiative launched at Blacktown Hospital.

The new system makes paper prescriptions a thing of the past, with patients’ discharge medications sent directly to pharmacists on a digital program called the ‘WatchList’ that was piloted by Western Sydney Local Health District (WSLHD).

WSLHD eMeds manager Liz Ellankil said prescriptions now reach pharmacists instantly and they are automatically notified, saving nearly 40 minutes per patient on average.

“After day one of the implementation we could already see improvements in the discharge medications process time, mainly due to reducing the time it takes the hospital pharmacy to retrieve the prescriptions,” Ms Ellankil said.

“The system also allows status updates at each stage of the dispensing process, which is viewable by all medical, pharmacy, nursing, midwifery and clerical staff. Currently this is handled by a different application, so it reduces the number of programs required for the discharge process.”

eMeds senior clinical analyst Lucy Lin, Dr Jovana Stojkov, eMeds manager Liz Ellankil and pharmacy director Amy Murray check out the new system.

Blacktown and Mount Druitt hospitals pharmacy director Amy Murray said the new program means pharmacists spend less time on paperwork and more time with patients.

“WatchList allows pharmacists to see all the details about the patient’s medication plan on discharge, providing a holistic view to reconcile, clinically review and supply medications for discharge,” Ms Murray said.

“This means we have more information about the patient and more time to speak with them about their medications, including what may have changed since before they were admitted to hospital. This will help to avoid confusion, address any concerns and lower the risk of them returning to hospital due to an avoidable medication error.”

WatchList is currently only being trialled at Blacktown Hospital, but based on that success the team is now planning to roll it to other sites within WSLHD and Nepean-Blue Mountains LHD.

The new system is freeing up time for doctors and pharmacists.

WSLHD chief medical information officer Naren Gunja said it was exciting to see Blacktown Hospital lead the way among public hospitals around Australia.

“This is another brilliant example of the way clinicians are integrating cutting-edge digital health innovations into their day-to-day work to improve the way we do things, to the benefit of patients and staff alike,” A/Prof Gunja said.

“Liz Ellankil, Amy Murray, and all the pharmacy, eMeds, enhance, nursing and medical staff involved in this successful trial ought to be congratulated.”

WatchList is made possible by eMeds, which is being implemented statewide in partnership with eHealth NSW as part of a $236 million investment in digital health in the 2017/18 State Budget.

eMeds, or electronic medication management, is an additional function of NSW Health’s electronic medical record and provides a complete, real-time digital picture of patient medications as they are prescribed, reviewed, dispensed and administered in hospitals.