Because every dispensing practice and community pharmacy is different, every Pharmaself24 installation we undertake is inherently different. Recently, however, we completed an installation that was very much the first of its kind.
The customer was Birmingham Heartlands Hospital, part of the Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust, which is employing our 24/7 medicine collection technology to solve a unique problem.
While this machine – a Pharmaself24 Compact – is loaded by the dispensary team as normal, collections are made not by patients, but by ward staff. The reason being that the Pharmaself24 is used to hold the TTO medicines required by patients at the point of discharge, ensuring this process is not unnecessarily interrupted by the pharmacy being closed or a porter not being available.
The machine, which has a footprint of just one square metre, features a bespoke user interface designed by our in-house development team. It allows authorised ward staff to log-in using their NHS Trust credentials, from which point they can select a patient on their ward and retrieve the TTO medicines that have been previously loaded by the dispensary team. Crucially, this enables the patient to return home as soon as they are ready, without having to endure any more time in hospital than necessary.
For the NHS, this underlying impetus to return patients home is rooted in reasons beyond patient care alone. With a long-term decline in beds and sustained growth in demand for NHS services, there is a continued squeeze on the finite resource available.
NHS trusts are focused on alleviating this pressure, looking to reduce the time patients spend in hospitals while still ensuring they receive the expected level of care. It remains a challenge: the number of delayed discharges rose substantially between 2014 and 2017 – a situation that healthcare think tank The King’s Fund argues “has a negative impact on patients’ care and poses operational challenges for providers”.
Equipped with technology such as the Pharmaself24, however, hospital staff now have a tool to help address difficulties around the discharge process, improve the patient experience and smooth the overall flow of people through a hospital’s doors.
At Hub & Spoke Innovations, we are now fast approaching our 100th installation across a variety of different settings, from dispensing surgeries and community pharmacies to prison pharmacies and hospitals. As this particular example shows, they are all very different in their nature, but the common thread to them all is the smart application of technology to deliver a better patient experience.
This article first appeared in July issue of Dispex Gazette. To discuss how Pharmaself24 medicine collection technology could work in your unique setting, get in touch today using the form at the bottom of the page.