23 August 2023 Articles

Electronic Sharing of Medicines Information: Paving the Way for Safer Patient Care


A recent study conducted by the University of Manchester, commissioned by NHS England, has revealed that electronic sharing of prescription medicines information holds the key to significantly improving patient safety in healthcare settings.

The study’s findings are impressive, showing a potential 40% reduction in medication errors during hospital transitions, which could prevent harm to thousands of patients and save millions in healthcare costs. As the NHS introduces new digital information standards, the vision of a safer healthcare system becomes increasingly achievable.

The study’s primary focus was to explore the impact of electronic sharing of medicines information on medication errors during hospital transitions. Currently, a staggering 1.8 million medication errors occur when patients go into or leave hospitals. However, with the implementation of electronic information sharing, this number could drop significantly to 1.1 million, signifying a remarkable 40% reduction. Such a drastic improvement in medication safety is a crucial step in delivering higher-quality patient care.

Apart from reducing the overall number of medication errors, the study also highlighted the potential to decrease the number of people adversely affected by these errors. Currently, around 370 thousand patients experience harm due to medication errors, but electronic sharing of medicines information could bring this number down to approximately 220 thousand. This reduction could lead to better patient outcomes, less suffering, and an overall enhancement in the quality of healthcare services.

One of the most striking revelations from the study is the possibility of preventing harm to about 12 thousand individuals each year if electronic sharing of prescription medicines information becomes a standard practice. The errors and discrepancies that lead to harm can often be mitigated through careful review and communication with patients, families, and other healthcare professionals. With electronic records seamlessly connecting this information, healthcare providers can have a more accurate picture of a patient’s medication history, thus minimizing the risk of harmful outcomes.

In addition to improved patient safety, electronic sharing of medicines information can lead to substantial financial savings for the healthcare system. The study estimates that 14 thousand fewer hospital days would be required to treat medication error-related cases, resulting in a cost-saving of approximately £6.6 million. These savings could be redirected to other vital healthcare areas, bolstering patient care and investment in advanced medical technologies.

The study’s findings align perfectly with the NHS’s current efforts to introduce new digital information standards that facilitate seamless communication between GP and hospital electronic records. Such standards are poised to revolutionize healthcare coordination, ensuring that crucial patient information is available to all authorized healthcare professionals at every stage of care. This streamlining of information sharing would significantly reduce the time spent on reconciling medication discrepancies and further enhance patient safety.

The University of Manchester’s study offers a glimpse into the promising future of healthcare, driven by the implementation of electronic sharing of prescription medicines information. With the potential to reduce medication errors during hospital transitions by 40%, protect thousands of patients from harm, and save millions in healthcare costs, the importance of embracing digital information standards cannot be overstated. As the NHS takes a significant stride towards a safer healthcare system, patients, healthcare professionals, and the entire healthcare industry stand to benefit from this transformative leap forward. By harnessing the power of technology, we pave the way for a safer, more efficient, and patient-centric healthcare experience.

To find out more about how Apira can help your trust to utilise technology and further your digital journey, please contact Rory Dennis, Director of Growth at rory.dennis@apira.co.uk

Information from Manchester.au.uk