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Electronic medication management increases patient safety

6 Jun 2014, by Informa Insights

A recent survey conducted by InterSystems at the Electronic Medication Management Conference found that 100% of the 30 participated Australian hospitals expected electronic medication management (EMM) to lead to increased patient safety.  However, 60% cited complexity or cost of interoperability as a significant barrier to deployment.

26 public hospitals and 4 private hospitals participated in the survey, highlights of which include:

  • Among the 30 surveyed hospitals, all but one were deploying or planning to deploy EMM systems.
  • In addition to increasing patient safety, 79% expected EMM to improve productivity and efficiency.
  • Lack of funding was cited as a key barrier to EMM deployment by 60% of hospitals.
  • EMM systems needed to interoperate with another 12 systems on average.

“There is universal agreement among hospitals that deploying electronic medication management systems will increase patient safety,” said Darren Jones, Regional Managing Director at InterSystems. “The vast majority of hospitals also expect EMM systems to bring greater productivity and efficiency, although they see a number of significant deployment barriers.”

eMedAmong hospitals surveyed, 35% had deployed EMM systems – either within part of the organisation (21%) or throughout it (14%). Another 31% were currently implementing and a further 31% were planning to implement EMM systems. Only one hospital (3%) had no plans to implement EMM.

Of the hospitals surveyed, 69% of respondents expected “better customer service”; 52%, “improved work satisfaction/staff morale”; and 48%, “reduced costs,” in addition to patient safety and operational improvements.

Asked which features of an EMM system contributed to increased patient safety, 93% of hospitals cited “accurate current medication lists.” Another 87% indicated “interaction checking (e.g., drug/allergy)”; 83%, “convenient access to contextually relevant drug information”; 80%, “medication reconciliation”; and 77%, “dosage alerts,” among other beneficial features.

Among the main barriers cited by hospitals intending to deploy EMM were “change management issues” (47%) and “difficulty gaining clinical adoption” (43%), in addition to “lack of funding,” cited by 60% of respondents, and “complexity or cost of interoperability,” also cited by 60%.

When asked how many systems an EMM system needed to interoperate with, 47% of hospitals said “5-10 systems” and 20% said “15-20 systems,” with the average number around 12.

Jones said “there are three main strategies for healthcare organisations deploying EMM to minimise the complexity or cost of interoperability with other clinical systems. One is to standardise on a unified healthcare information system offering a broad range of clinical functionality including EMM. Another is to choose an EMM system with advanced integration capabilities to ease the task and reduce the cost of interoperability.  The third strategy is to adopt a health informatics platform across your organisation to enable strategic interoperability.”

“Victoria’s Portland Hospital recently deployed EMM across the organisation without complex or costly interoperability issues because they had standardised on the InterSystems TrakCare® healthcare information system,” said Jones. “Other organisations pursuing a best-of-breed clinical applications strategy have also minimised EMM interoperability issues with TrakCare’s inbuilt rapid integration capabilities, or with the InterSystems HealthShare® health informatics platform.”

For more information about the survey and InterSystems’ EMM system, please visit

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