NHS acute hospitals are under increasing pressure to streamline their activities, reduce costs, wastage and discharge patients in a safe and timely manner. Northwick Park Hospital Pharmacy department is leading the way in operational efficiency by using mobile printing solutions from Toshiba TEC to dispense medicines and discharge prescriptions at the patient’s bedside rather than in the main dispensary.
Need for speed
At Northwick Park Hospital, to enable patients to be discharged in a safe and effective way, there are many steps that take place behind the scenes. Traditionally, the doctor will inform the patient they will be discharged on their ward round in the morning, however, it is not until after the ward round that the doctor will get to write up the discharge letter and prescribe the medicines To Take Away (TTA).
Whilst patients wait for their medicines, they occupy a bed space until their medications arrive. It is only then, that they can be physically discharged off the ward and out of that bed. Kristi Anderson, Principal Pharmacy Technician, states, “Labelling and dispensing in the main dispensary was proving to be a laborious and time-consuming process due to the sheer volume of work, work space and number of staff. It relies on excellent documentation and communication and medication being transferred from one location to another. We knew we needed to streamline and improve these processes.”
“One of my colleagues met Toshiba TEC at the Clinical Pharmacy Congress where they had a stand. She said she was impressed with the Toshiba B-EP2 Mobile Printer for Ward Dispensing and suggested making contact.”
After discussing her requirements with Toshiba TEC, Kristi agreed to trial a Toshiba B-EP2 Mobile Printer for at least two weeks. She put a procedure in place where the TTA’s are screened, labelled, dispensed and checked on the ward near to the patient’s bedside. By doing this, the perceived benefits were…
• Patients could be discharged faster
• Potential to save money as ward beds could be available sooner
• The repatriation risk of returning the correct medicine to the correct patient was reduced
• Pressure taken off the overworked and overcrowded main dispensary
• The patient experience and satisfaction could be improved
• Patients could be counselled on their medicines – achieving Trust targets of counselling 70% of patients, which is reported to the trust board
A successful trial
Kristi Anderson completed the trial period on three wards (2 acute wards and 1 medical ward) over two weeks. The results were extremely positive and showed that the Toshiba B-EP2 Mobile Printers have enabled the Dispensing for Discharge (DFD) team to dispense TTAs on the wards well within their one hour target. On average a massive 126 minutes per patient was saved each time a patient was discharged.
Kristi Anderson noted, “We have also identified an increased level of patient satisfaction, as they are able to leave hospital sooner. In addition, compliance has potentially been improved, as a member of the pharmacy team is able to run through the patient’s medications with them on discharge, giving the patient the opportunity to highlight any problems before they go home. Furthermore, it has improved workflow within the pharmacy department, reduced the possibility of errors as well as saving precious nursing time, as they don’t need to go to the pharmacy to collect urgent TTAs.’
Spread the message
Extended and often unnecessary patient discharge periods are not unique to Northwick Park Hospital and facilities up and down the country are faced with the same issues. Kristi Anderson concludes, “The use of Toshiba B-EP2 Mobile Printers has highlighted that there is a ready made solution available that can drastically reduce the amount of time patients have to wait to receive their take home medicines. I certainly believe that other NHS Trust hospitals should initiate a similar programme of improvement and would highly recommend Toshiba TEC’s products and services.”