Electronic Medication Management Systems

A research team led by Professor Johanna Westbrook working with clinical and IT staff from Sydney’s St Vincent Hospital have found that the electronic medication management system MedChart would provide savings of around $100,000 per year for a 30 bed ward.

Australian states are beginning to implement large-scale electronic medication management systems for public health services. NSW has a budget of $170 million over ten years for processing a rollout. Yet very few economic valuations have been done ascertaining the benefits expected from these public investments.

Johanna and her team focused on a cardiology ward and compared paper-based prescribing processes and MedChart’s prescribing processes. In particular they looked at the two different systems and how they influenced medication errors and prevented adverse drug events.

The team’s results showed savings of around $64 per admission. If this result is extended to include all admissions at St Vincents, a hospital with 39,900 admissions, this would save approximately $2.5 million per annum. The study is rare in that it looks at the economic benefits of preventing adverse drug events and therefore provides a better picture of just what the economic realities are.

The study also suggested that further improvements can be expected in electronic medication management systems, reducing a greater number of adverse drug events than they currently do. There is an expectation that upgrades to electronic medication system — to include electronic decision making support which can guide doctors in their prescribing decisions — will produce future additional benefits. This has the potential to further increase the cost savings for hospitals with the proviso that such system improvements may increase demand for more hospital resources to monitor and maintain electronic systems.

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