“Better time management was not the only concern associated with the complex process of administering medications – managing the risk of errors was also a major concern because the implications are so serious.”
The Salvation Army Aged Care Plus (TSAACP) has an organisational goal to continuously streamline and invest in support systems that strengthen their business model. In order to achieve this, TSAACP has successfully introduced a series of technological innovations throughout the organisation.
Prior to implementation of IT, an internal investigation across the organisation’s 17 facilities revealed that a large proportion of employees’ time was absorbed with administration and paperwork for management of medications. As an example, at TSAACP, nursing staff are required to work 7.6 hour shifts. During these shifts, staff typically sign for a combined total of 7,800 to 20,800 drugs per day, and require approximately 2.5 hours – more than a quarter of a rostered shift – to complete each medication round.
If a medication incident occurred as a result of a signature omission or other administration mistake, it would previously take TSAACP staff approximately 20 minutes to review the complex paper trail and determine a reason and resolution for the error.
With extensive experience in aged care and implementing IT solutions, operations manager Luke Greive further emphasised why it was vital for TSAACP to shift to an electronic system.
“TSAACP provides care to 1500 residents who, on average, take nine medications per day. This equates to 4,927,500 medications administered annually. Managing this volume and achieving compliance was difficult using a manual, paper-based process which reduced visibility across medication management practices, reporting and errors,” Luke said.
“Better time management was not our only concern with the complex process of administering medications. Managing the risk of errors was a major concern as the implications are so serious.” Luke said.
TSAACP underwent a significant change management process which involved electronically linking facilities, pharmacies and visiting GPs in order to reduce the risk of error in administering medications, across the entire organisation. TSAACP’s decision to implement iCareHealth’s Medication Management software was based largely on the fact that it was scalable at an enterprise level.
“While there are other electronic medication management systems available, investigations showed iCareHealth’s software to be superior because it is robust and scalable. As a large, multi-facility organisation, we needed software that could handle a lot of information but also provide transparency for management,” Luke said. iCareHealth software also seamlessly integrates with multiple dose administration aids (DAAs).
“Across our facilities, various DAAs are in use so iCareHealth was able to provide a system that could accommodate this. Medication Management is also integrated with iCareHealth’s Clinical and Care Management software, which we have been using since 2007. So now we only have one electronic record and one source of truth for residents’ clinical and medication information,” he said.
“iCareHealth’s implementation process is also second to none. Their systematic approach to a comprehensive change management program combined with the implementation consultants’ expertise reassured us that we had chosen to work with the right software partner,” Luke continued.
“As TSAACP is the largest aged care provider in Australia to implement an electronic medication management software, preparing for an implementation of this size involved strategically assessing the best method for roll-out. Due to the TSAACP’s geographical spread and implementation logistics, a trial was conducted at one facility before a staged deployment occurred at other sites,” he explained. The insights gathered from the trial were crucial in achieving a successful implementation across the organisation.
“The project was embedded within the operations department of TSAACP, working in partnership with care and clinical governance, as well as regional and facility managers. A project champion was also appointed to work with iCareHealth throughout the implementation to provide support and training to facility staff. The trial experience allowed us to refine the implementation process so it ran as smoothly as possible.”
“Electronic medication management should be an integral part of every aged care provider’s business.”
After conducting a post implementation review of iCareHealth’s Medication Management software, the organisation’s envisaged that expectations were exceeded.
“The software offers a safer and more accountable medication management system. The operational risk rating dropped significantly, with increases in efficiency, effectiveness and transparency,” said Luke.
iCareHealth’s Medication Management software has reduced the burden of administrative tasks at TSAACP by streamlining or removing this process altogether.
“Our staff now spend far less clinical care time to undertake administrative processes associated with medication management including following up with pharmacy, investigating and rectifying signature omissions. As a result, job satisfaction has increased and staff are reinvesting their time into resident care,” Luke added.
“Since implementation, TSAACP has reduced the clinical risk associated with medication management whilst still improving service provisions for our residents. The application provides a picture of the resident next to the dosing instructions so the chances of error are minimal. In addition, there is no chance of forgetting the medication because if it’s not administered, the application requests a reason and one has to be entered. This has significantly reduced medication errors and risks to the resident and our organisation,” Luke said. “Electronic medication management should be an integral part of every aged care provider’s business.”