What to ask when investing in an electronic medication management system – Part 1

| 11 Mar 2014
Questions to ask when investing in electronic medication management

Medication management software has become a hot topic in recent years as the greater use of technology expands into the aged care sector, and savvy care providers seek to improve medication management processes.

However, it seems that no two electronic medication management systems are the same and consequently, not all are created equal. To help you better evaluate the merits of medication management software in the market, we’ve come up with nine questions to consider asking software providers.

Does the medication management software support a single record across clinical, care and medication management systems?

A single, electronic record that links clinical, care and medication management is critical in order for maximum efficiencies to be gained through the implementation of technology in any residential aged care setting.

Electronic medication management systems that support a single, electronic record allow for residents’ medication and clinical information to be automatically updated and recorded within care plans and progress notes, eliminating the need to rely on human memory. Having one source of truth that care and nursing staff can use to access up-to-date resident information helps significantly in the reduction of medication errors or adverse events, which leads to greater integrity in relation to medication management and improvements to the quality of care. It can also lead to obvious improvements in risk management and data security – a plus for all aged care organisations.

Electronic medication management systems that provide a single, electronic record for each resident should also facilitate the seamless flow of this information between the aged care facility, GPs and pharmacists. Electronic medication management systems that do not support the flow of this information between key stakeholders are less effective in reducing medication errors. You’ll also need to ensure that the software complements and aligns to the existing clinical systems already in use by these stakeholders involved in the care process.

Does the medication management software support choice of Dose Administration Aids and pharmacy suppliers?

Another factor to consider is how important it is to your aged care organisation to have complete flexibility and choice over the pharmacy you use, and subsequent Dose Administration Aids (DAA) both now and into the future. Most providers would prefer to steer away from medication management software that locks the organisation into using only one pharmacy, and one kind of DAA. When evaluating medication management software, it’s a good idea to ensure that integration with a wide range of pharmacy dispensing and packing systems is also supported.

How does the medication management software enforce compliance measures?

It is vital that electronic medication management systems support accreditation requirements by enforcing the six Rs of safe medication administration – right resident, right medication, right route, right dose, right documentation and right time.

Does the proposed software comprise intuitive safety alerts and warnings that automatically prompt staff to comply with the highest standard of medication administration procedures? Does the functionality of the software prevent staff from proceeding with medication administration until an electronic signature has been captured and recorded? Does the solution also offer safeguards against the compliance risks associated with the administration of PRN ‘as required’ medications?

If the answer is ‘yes’, the medication management software will help ensure that your own medication administration is managed safely and correctly, according to relevant legislation and regulatory requirements.

Is the medication management software user-friendly?

When it comes to electronic medication management systems, the user experience is of paramount importance. It is essential that the software is truly fit for purpose by serving all users – registered nurses, care staff or other authorised members of staff – regardless of the individual’s IT capabilities and confidence.

In our experience, electronic medication management systems are welcomed by the majority of staff within residential aged care facilities when the software interface is clear, simple and easy to use. The in-built workflows should also be the outcome of extensive product development, testing and refinement to ensure the processes don’t add to staff workloads but instead, complement existing medication management processes.

Click through to read to five more essential questions to ask software providers when evaluating medication management software.

(Image credit: jscreationz)

Tags: aged care, aged care software, medication management, technology

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The iCareHealth Team


  1. Dennis Plunkett

    There is one more group of questions that need to be asked when looking for applications that interact with quality of life and that is simply, how safe is it? Now that may seem to be obvious as it delivers what you ask for. There is far more under the covers than this, it is about the process used to develop and test the application to ensure that under no conditions will it deliver an uncontrolled error, or in simple terms something like the incorrect product.

    Arguments will be established that the end prescriber is responsible for the check on check. And this is a correct position to use, but is it adequate? Do you have parking sensors on your car? Try parking without them after you have been using them for about 6 months, or better still try turning them off part way through while you are parking. You may hit something because you have become unconsciously reliant on its activities.

    The same things occur in all areas we operate in, lights that turn on when we get home, kettles that turn off on their own, phones that remind us they need to be charged.

    In software errors can occur as it is near impossible to test every combination, so something that worked for years may suddenly have a latent issue eg network failures / errors , incorrect data base updates. It is how this issue is handled and presented to the user that is important, is the result a safe state without human intervention?

    In software you should be looking at the development lifecycle, the hazard and safety analysis, the testing process. You should be comfortable with how errors and mistakes are handled and that there is a layer of non critical, critical and hazardous events handling, perhaps even and FMEA as the keystones for a qualify product. On top of this is ease of use, functions, purpose and integration.

    These are not new processes and have been used by safety critical software development organisations for years. If you don’t think that the process works or is solid or necessary, then look at it from an invisible technology perspective, things that just work every time, you may use one everyday without taking a second thought traffic lights. They are designed so that any fault will not cause a multiple green in roads that cross or intersect.

    If your supplier provides these concepts and processes as an integrated product solution then you are well on the way to deploying a reliable and trustworthy systems that exhibit quality


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