Whilst working as a clinical pharmacist and medication safety advisor in an adult acute-care tertiary facility followed by a tertiary, quaternary pediatric facility, I advised medical professionals on best practice evidence-based pharmaceutical therapies, dose range checking, drug-drug interactions, drug-allergy and drug-disease interactions, altered pharmacokinetics, and administration advice. All these processes reduce the incidence of serious medication errors and adverse drug events and optimise patient care.
All patient information was recorded manually on paper charts. This led to often numerous charts for the one patient stored in patient files. Paper records were often being misplaced and missing, which resulted in missed doses, incomplete monitoring and failures to manage or complete vital therapy.
Illegible prescriptions, challenges in accessing real-time dosing, scheduling and evidence-based drug therapy information created dangerous error-prone practices: medication omissions, dose administration, including 10 fold overdoses and system failures across the entire medication management pathway. Such errors can often lead to significant harmful consequences.
The issue is a lack of real time, updated information available for healthcare providers treating patients as they transition through the hospital system.
Bespoke and fragmented IT systems also meant that patient data was siloed. Providers did not readily have access to this information for audit and research purposes, performance monitoring, quality improvement and to optimise best practice care. In addition, patients were unable to access their own patient information and data for sharing with community and third-party health providers was not possible.
Delays or failures in generating electronic discharge summaries meant that community health care providers and GPs did not have timely access to patient information.
Lack of information resulted in non-adherence to post-hospital therapeutic care and potential patient hospital readmissions in the worst of scenarios.
In my experience, working with hospitals adopting technology, the change seen was transformational to health care delivery. Technology-enhanced communication and sharing of information between healthcare providers, patients, and their care workers, improved the ability to access data for clinical and research purposes. Technology-enhanced communication significantly improved patient care. Importantly, I and other health care providers were able to spend more time with patients to ensure improved patient outcomes.
Closely aligning the skills of healthcare experts and IT professionals ensures successful design and implementation of a healthcare IT system. Strong, robust leadership, governance, and planning are also vital to success.
The team must be encouraged to express new, innovative ideas. Sharing a vision ensures that the system can manage complex business and IT processes, with the focal point being most importantly the patient. This transformational shift moves us towards a future in which patients take responsibility and ownership of their healthcare information and data, with an ability to express how it is used, thereby driving a patient-centric approach to health care.
After completing a Bachelor of Pharmacy degree, I spent a year abroad in England registered as a pharmacist with the Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain.
Following my return to Australia, I started at Royal Perth Hospital (RPH) where I established the first medication safety and clinical pharmacist role for the RPH Emergency Department. In 2010, I worked as a volunteer pharmacist at the Angkor Wat Children’s Hospital in Siem Reap. I moved into pediatric healthcare and commenced extensive work and data analytics in the field of pediatric medication safety. This provided me the opportunity to become the Senior Pharmacist Lead for the Perth Children’s Hospital in Western Australia. In 2013, I was awarded a Churchill Fellowship to study electronic medical systems and Pharmacy Robotics in the US, UK, Singapore, Europe, and Israel. In 2015, I completed my PMP certification.