There is a lot of pressure on aged care providers to be on top of their medication management, which can be incredibly difficult with aged care residents who typically have increased medication requirements and high rates of polypharmacy.
Many facilities face a disconnect between their own records, the pharmacist and the doctor, and with this, the risks of errors can increase. For every 100 medications, there are 72.6 record errors, with 40% of these having potential to cause moderate harm and 9.8% severe harm.
Putting in place an electronic medication management system, like BESTMED, can make a huge difference to reducing these medication errors while also saving time for aged care staff.
Countdown to funding deadline
The chief complaint at the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality Safety was around poor medication management, with over 1,000 issues raised. This is why the Government has placed such a big focus on transitioning aged care providers to electronic medication management systems through grant funding incentives.
With up to $22,000 in funding available from the Government per home to adopt an Electronic National Residential Medication Chart (eNRMC), now is the time for aged care providers to get on board with the deadline for the highest funding on 30 March 2023.
The sooner you apply, the more funding you will receive for your organisation. Aged care provider, Allity, is currently undertaking its grant funding application, but has been receiving the services of BESTMED, an electronic medication management system, through an eNMRC trial since 2020.
Michelle Ventura, who works within the Quality & Risk team at Allity specifically managing innovations, informatics and clinical governance, said that going with BESTMED was a “no brainer”.
She explained that the reason Allity loved BESTMED so much was because of the strong collaboration between their team and BESTMED in enhancing the systems to suit their needs.
Prior to BESTMED, Allity’s medication management was completely paper-based, which left a lot of room for errors from both staff, administration and prescribing.
“There is just no comparison between a manual process for medication management to electronic medication management. Not to mention, it allows us to do central monitoring of everything compliance-wise when it comes to medication management,” explains Ms Ventura.
“The manual process of medication management is just very risky compliance wise, and quality of care wise. It just opens up a lot of room for errors from all aspects. From pharmacy prescribers and even staff.”
Giving staff more time for care
Ms Ventura said that BESTMED was such an easy system to use and first-time users among their staff were easily able to navigate through the medication management system to find what they needed.
Additionally, the BESTMED system is able to give safety prompts to Registered Nurses (RNs) to make smarter decisions about medication administration, which would never happen on a paper-based system unless you flicked through all the papers of a record to confirm everything is correct.
“All the information they need [is there], they don’t need to decipher or decode doctors’ handwritten orders because it is very clear. It leaves little to no room for error when prescribing,” explained Ms Ventura.
Alma O’Leary, Quality Governance Manager for Bupa Aged Care, agreed, as paper-based systems were difficult to manage for everyone involved, took up a lot of time, and there was lacking “visibility and oversight” from a governance perspective.
Whereas, BESTMED’s electronic system has had a very obvious impact on their medication error levels.
BESTMED being electronic and being able to see what is happening in all of our homes has been such a game changer for us in terms of quality," said Ms O'Leary.
Particularly for staff, Ms O’Leary has found that the electronic system has freed up a lot of time for aged care staff.
Previously, staff would have constantly had to fax the pharmacy on changes to medication charts. But now, the workflow for staff is as simple as checking the BESTMED system to ensure everything is correct.
The best thing for Ms O’Leary is seeing how much their staff love using the BESTMED system to help manage medication.
“That is the big thing for us, as long as the front line loves it and wants to use it, it means we know the system is being developed by people who understand aged care – that has been such a big part for us,” said Ms O’Leary.
Assisting with added reporting measures
With all aged care facilities required to regularly report on medication areas, BESTMED has been an absolute game-changer for compliance and meeting new Quality Indicators.
For Bupa, Ms O’Leary said that polypharmacy was always difficult to track, especially for checking compliance of chemical restraints. However, now, they have seen an ongoing reduction each quarter in the administration of antipsychotics and polypharmacy because everything is tracked so accurately.
"BESTMED was a really easy sell to our nursing staff. We really quickly saw the benefits of it, people loved using it and it was just so much better than the processes we had before," added Ms O'Leary.
“Certainly, like the Quality Indicator program, where we are currently being asked to report on antipsychotic usage and polypharmacy, that is now very easy for us to obtain and get data for, because of the reporting capabilities of the electronic medication management system,” she said.
“You wouldn’t get that efficiency in a manual medication management process. Literally, you have to get a staffer to count each medication and each drug chart for them to get that sort of data.”
Both Allity and Bupa have seen the benefits of engaging eNMRC into their facilities and are both aiming to get the grant funding assistance through the Government to go towards implementing this across their aged care homes.
“We are just so glad the Government is backing this up and promoting this, we truly love the idea of the eNMRC adoption grant, it’s really going to push other organisations to move electronic. It is definitely a great step forward in the right direction,” said Ms Ventura.
Choosing a connected medication management system
Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of BESTMED, Phil Offer, agrees that now is the best time for aged care organisations to apply for the eNMRC grant and get that funding to implement efficient medication management systems into their aged care homes.
Using electronic medication management systems, like BESTMED, can make a huge difference in reducing facility medication errors while also creating a stronger linkage between all the players in medication administration.
Mr Offer explained that for medication management to its full potential there needs to be a ‘connected medication management system’, which is what BESTMED does best. This is one reason why half of the top ten aged care providers already use BESTMED.
“This is a once in a generation leap ahead. It is important for facilities to take this opportunity to choose a connected medication management system that minimises medication errors rather than potentially compromise on a system that requires care team members such as pharmacies to re-enter data. Any time data is re-entered is an opportunity for new errors,” he said.
"The great thing about BESTMED is that we are completely focused on medication management and spending $2.5m per annum to continuously improve quality.
For more information about signing up to an eNMRC system or to apply for Government grant funding, head to the Department of Health and Aged Care website.
First published in HelloCare, 10 November 2022
Click here for more information about the eNRMC and government grant opportunity funding now available.