Colleagues from the University of Birmingham and University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust (UHB) have hosted a conference for healthcare professionals and patient representatives from across the country to discuss the past, present and future of electronic prescribing (ePrescribing). The event was funded by the West Midlands Academic Health Science Network (WMAHSN) as part of their digital health enabling theme.
The conference, which was attended by over 150 delegates, took place at the International Convention Centre (ICC) in Birmingham City Centre on Monday 8 June. Organising the event were Professor Jamie Coleman, Professor in Medical Education and Clinical Pharmacology at the University of Birmingham and clinical lead for medicines optimisation and drug safety at WMAHSN, and Adam Khimji, ePrescribing Pharmacist at UHB.
ePrescribing systems allow doctors and other relevant healthcare professionals to prescribe medications via a computer system and are used increasingly in hospitals across the world. Evidence suggests that ePrescribing is safer than traditional paper-based prescribing. However, the change from paper-based prescribing to ePrescribing can be challenging. Implementation and development of ePrescribing may be time-consuming, costly, and requires healthcare staff to be fully engaged with change processes.
The aim of the conference was to discuss the benefits and challenges associated with ePrescribing and provide advice to new implementers. Highlights from the day included keynote speeches from several experts in the field and breakout workshops and case studies, led by representatives from trusts across the West Midlands region and NHS England. These sessions provided delegates with expert advice and insight on the successful implementation and integration of ePrescribing, while stimulating discussion and encouraging sharing of best practice.
The conference began with an entertaining and informative presentation from Professor Coleman, who discussed the evolution of ePrescribing. He was followed by Ann Slee, ePrescribing lead for NHS England, who contemplated the future of ePrescribing. Adam Khimji then provided insight into an ePrescribing Digital Maturity tool developed here in Birmingham and the results of the West Midlands pilot. The tool aims to establish how well integrated ePrescribing is into hospitals across the country.
Following three breakout workshops there were three further keynote speeches during the afternoon session. Sonal Shah, Research Fellow at the University of Birmingham, described the process of creating a promotional video to help change negative perceptions about implementing ePrescribing. Following this Sarah Slight, Senior Lecturer in Pharmacy Practice at Durham University and visiting Research Scholar at Harvard Medical School/Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, USA, gave an insight into potential issues with ePrescribing systems and how such issues can be avoided.
The day culminated with a motivating presentation from Neil Watson, Clinical Director of Pharmacy and Medicines Management at The Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, who provided his perspective on how ePrescribing can help in optimising the safe and appropriate use of medicines to patients in hospital.
Professor Coleman felt the conference was a huge success. “I couldn’t be happier with how the day went. It gave healthcare professionals and patients the opportunity to increase their understanding of ePrescribing and network with colleagues from across the country. We received some fantastic feedback and are grateful to the WMAHSN for providing us with the opportunity to organise the event.
“As healthcare undergoes a change from paper to electronic systems we must also change the culture in hospitals, to ensure both staff and patients are informed, engaged and supported during the implementation of ePrescribing and beyond.”
Professor Coleman and colleagues will continue to inform public and professionals about ePrescribing at their next event, ePrescribing: Looking to the future – from implementation and adoption to organisational transformation and patient benefits, which is taking place on 24 February 2016 at the Royal College of General Practitioners in London.