Medicines are vital to support health and wellbeing, yet we know that they are often not used optimally or safely. Medicine errors are a serious threat to patient safety and a significant health problem. It is considered a challenge.
With the rise of eHealth comes new opportunities to manage or solve some of the challenges related to medicine errors, and innovative collaborations are one of the key factors in achieving integrated care. By sharing information, digitalisation promises to support greater integration and cooperation between homes, pharmacies, primary and hospital care.
Research on managing medicines indicates that there is a lack of communication, understanding and collaboration between pharmacies, hospitals and community caregivers, lack of awareness and insufficient knowledge about medicine reconciliation, and no formal process to ensure an accurate and complete transfer of medicines information at the interfaces of care. In addition, many doctors are reluctant to delegate medicines management to nurses or pharmacy technicians.
To reduce medicine errors and improve quality of care, we need to collaborate in new ways and with people and organisations that we do not work with normally. At present, health care providers, including pharmacists, at different institutions and across different levels of care may register medicines in different IT systems. The pervasive silo mentality that exists between primary and specialist health care services complicates medicines management because individual services and providers often have bespoke and incompatible systems for monitoring and supporting it.
As in other areas of life, digital technologies offer the promise of many improvements, but how do they really make things better? The new project, electronic Medicines Management (eMM) - A comparative case study promoting coherent health and welfare services, seeks to understand the current challenges within medicines management and make solid recommendations for how digital tools and new practices can make a positive contribution to coherent and integrated health and welfare services for the future.
To enable new collaborations and ensure results that benefit a truly integrated system of care, we have strategically selected two research sites: New University Hospital of North Norway, Narvik and Stavanger University Hospital. Each site has a new hospital under construction and has shown a strong commitment towards ensuring high quality medicines management.
Using qualitative research methods, an interdisciplinary research team will explore and map the current digital tools, the work practises, and the organisational challenges at the sites. To boost integrated care, the project will also facilitate the sharing and development of new knowledge and support learning among the key professionals involved in medicines management. This will be done through establishing new arenas for extensive knowledge sharing on the barriers and facilitators of current medicines management practices within and across professions, institutions, and level of care at the two sites.
The eMM project is funded by the Norwegian Research Council (2021-2025). It will inform the design and implementation of new and improved systems and practices for electronic medicines management.