A specialist pharmacy department within NHS Wales is on track to deliver prescriptions in a third of the time to patients with complex medical conditions, after conducting software trials with public sector automation consultancy Foundry4.
The Medicines Homecare team, based at Morriston Hospital, manages outpatient prescriptions for people with chronic conditions, from cancers to rheumatology. Each prescription has to be checked by hospital pharmacists to ensure they meet all relevant criteria. With the service having more than 3,400 patients on its books, that adds up to a lot of prescriptions. And while undeniably important, the process is time-consuming, labour-intensive and monotonous.
The team successfully applied to ‘Innovate to Save’, which supports the potential for innovation in public services in Wales, for a research and development project. After a rigorous selection process, Foundry4 was selected as the automation partner for this element of the research and development project. The consultancy was able to introduce software which made time savings of 66% for pharmacists by automating the review and validation of each prescription in a ‘proof of concept’ trial.
Reuben Morgan, team manager at Medicines Homecare, commented: “These medicines are for chronic, severe, life-debilitating diseases. Without the prescriptions being validated by pharmacists, there isn’t an alternative method of supply. But our pharmacists’ time is best placed at the bedside, making that clinical intervention and in a clinical setting – where they make the most of their experience.
“It [the RPA] hasn’t got any other duties. Its bleeper isn’t going off, its phone isn’t going off. It’s not being distracted at all. It can just get on with the work and process prescriptions in accordance with the process definition document. This is a more prudent approach which frees up our pharmacists to spend more time at the patient’s bedside, doing that clinical intervention which is what they are trained for.”
David Biden, Co-Managing Director of Automation at Foundry4, said: “We’re really pleased that the initial project with NHS Wales has delivered such impressive results. The pharmacists we’ve engaged with are excited – they’re not seeing automation as something that will do them out of a job, but rather a tool that will empower them to achieve more in their day-to-day role.
“Human interaction is such an important element of care. By giving some of the high importance, low variance work to automated software, we can free up humans to be on the front line in patient facing roles”.