An upward trend has occurred over the past few years, where we have witnessed a greater number of residential aged care providers seeking to improve medication management processes. By restructuring and investing in electronic medication management (EMM) systems, many providers are achieving an immediate and substantial reduction in preventable medication errors.
Apart from the obvious need to reduce the risk of harm to residents, implementing EMM systems within residential aged care can result in organisation-wide efficiencies. In part one of this post, we discussed how aged care organisations can reduce the compliance risks associated with medication administration, simply by shifting from a paper-based system to electronic medication management. In the second part of the post, we outline four more ways an organisation can enhance medication administration outcomes with the implementation of EMM.
Increased efficiency and productivity during medication rounds
Paper-based systems force staff to spend valuable time searching through paper-based records when determining what medications are due throughout any given medication round. This process is not only lengthy, but can easily increase the opportunity for discrepancies and errors.
An EMM system offers a tangible boost to efficiency and productivity by saving staff from manually sorting through paper-based medication records to determine what medication is due at what time. EMM systems support centralised, electronic medication profiles that also ensure staff focus on only the specific medications due to be administered within a given time period, by only displaying this information.
Reduced pressure on registered nurses
Traditional medication administration processes often requires Registered Nurses (RN) to administer hundreds, if not thousands, of daily medications for residents. However, EMM reduces that pressure on RNs by providing a common electronic record that can be accessed by all authorised staff within the facility.
Greater controls and transparency provided by EMM systems thereby enables greater confidence to leverage available resources more effectively, and more widely distribute the workflows relating to the management of medications to endorsed carers and other qualified professionals.
Enhanced governance and decision making
In addition to improving workflows, EMM systems also alert staff to potential safety issues or any missed steps relating to the administration of medication. This helps aged care providers to ensure that their organisation’s medication administration processes and records are completed to the highest standard of quality.
With functionality to electronically capture data and centralise this information, EMM also increases visibility of medication management processes throughout an entire organisation. EMM enables head office to obtain access to data in real-time including medications administered, medications missed, PRNs and more. This data can be accessed at any location within the organisation, without the need to rely on transporting paper-based records. This electronic data can also be analysed to improve decision making and resident health outcomes.
Improved daily experiences for care and nursing staff
The entire aged care sector faces challenges with recruiting and retaining qualified staff. These challenges are compounding due to an overall shrinking workforce and increasing workloads for those who remain in the industry.
Taking advantage of EMM systems can support the demands on facility staff and improve the care experience. Easy to use technology such as EMM, free staff from the intensive documentation and administrative duties that paper-based systems require, providing more time to focus on providing safe and high quality care to older Australians.
In our own experiences, EMM systems are quickly embraced by staff in aged care because they are easy to use and do not add to existing workloads. Instead, they are designed to complement the processes and information associated with existing clinical systems.
Apart from the need to improve safety for residents, implementing electronic systems to provide critical clinical and medication information at the point of care will go the distance in reducing system-wide inefficiencies, compliance risks and the pressure on staff. If you’d like to find out more about electronic medication management systems for aged care, visit this page.
What do you think are the greatest benefits to using electronic medication management in residential aged care? Please share your thoughts and experiences below.
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