Cumbria NHS trust moves towards fully digital data ecosystem

North Cumbria Integrated Care NHS Foundation Trust to implement Better Meds' ePMA

North Cumbria Integrated Care NHS Foundation Trust (NCIC) has appointed Better, alongside CGI as the implementation partner for e-prescribing and allergy monitoring across its acute and community hospitals.

The agreement marks the next step in the trust’s ambition to move away from paper-based systems towards a central EPR model, intended to improve the delivery of hospital and community health services to more than half a million people.

The Better Meds solution is built on an openEHR platform which will allow for integration between existing and future systems, supporting the trust on its digital transformation journey.

This will include the immediate integration into NCIC’s existing decision-support systems, as well as its pharmacy and Omnicell Automated Dispensing Cabinets.

The system is a huge step forward in safety because we will improve how we review a patient’s medication history and our staff will be alerted to various risks associated with medicines including allergies, appropriate antimicrobial use, and other medicines safety issues

Michael Smillie, executive director of finance and digital at North Cumbria Integrated Care NHS Foundation Trust, said: “One of the most-important components of our transformation, as an organisation and wider healthcare system, will be how well we embrace the challenge of digital.

“Digital health plays a pivotal role in improving how care is delivered, empowering both communities and professionals through better digital services and information.

“We believe that ePMA is a crucial element of this and a priority for us in terms of our quality and safety agenda.”

Better and CGI were awarded the contract to deliver the Better Meds solution and Better Allergies Portal following a successful open procurement process alongside many other NHS acute and mental health trusts.

The cross-trust collaboration recognises the future need and ability to enable medications interoperability in order that digital prescriptions may be shared across multiple care settings.

Paul Fieldhouse, clinical directory of pharmacy at NCIC, said: “The new system will transform the way medicines are prescribed and administered across our hospitals.

“The system is a huge step forward in safety because we will improve how we review a patient’s medication history and our staff will be alerted to various risks associated with medicines including allergies, appropriate antimicrobial use, and other medicines safety issues.”

Digitising the current prescribing process not only benefits NCIC in the short term, but it also allows NCIC access to the data through open standards for future projects

NCIC will be seeking benefits realisation, including a reduction in medication errors, elimination of issues related to paper-systems such as illegible handwriting and lost files, as well as increased accountability and greater staff efficiencies.

The new system will be piloted at a single-site ward initially, testing and amending medication configuration before a full rollout across two acute hospital sites and county-wide community hospital wards.

Matthew Cox, managing director of Better for the UK and Ireland, said: “Digitising the current prescribing process not only benefits NCIC in the short term, but it also allows NCIC access to the data through open standards for future projects.

“Better Meds is designed for usability and safe prescribing for the patients and we are excited to get it into the hands of clinicians and pharmacists.

“With our strategic ecosystem partnerships with other leading technology suppliers, such as Omnicell, we can ensure that our technology solutions are truly revolutionary for our clients.”

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