Medication is the main part of the therapeutic process for hospital patients and with stocks of up to 200 medications held by hospital settings, it is estimated to be the second-highest spending chapter of health budgets. Management of medication stocks, their prescription and administration to patients (better known as the “medication management pathway”) is an onerous activity for hospitals and healthcare professionals. Tasks in this pathway are largely manual and non-digitalised. Visibility of medicine stocks is low; medication data is unfindable and low digitalisation of the pathway makes it highly prone for the occurrence of medication errors. Current rates of digitalisation combined with the high rates of manual activities undermines patients and healthcare professionals’ wellbeing and hospital systems resilience.
For medication errors alone, the impact from the current low levels of digitalisation in hospitals costs the OECD group $54 billion and 3 million avoidable hospital days. With the advent of the European Medicine’s Agency new European Shortages Monitoring Platform (ESMP) which will manage medication shortages and the European Health Data space for cross border patient care, current levels of Digitalisation of Hospitals Medication management pathways will reduce the reliability and success of these new initiatives to respond effectively to future health care crises. It is therefore crucial that the European Union invests in the Digitalisation of Hospitals Medication management pathways for patient safety, healthcare professionals’ wellbeing and for hospital resilience.
The white paper outlines the Alliance for the Digitalisation of Medication Management in European Hospitals’ calls for action, providing examples from across of the European Union of digitalisation of the pathway. The calls for actions include:
- Implement digital systems in hospitals for the effective employment of the European Shortages Monitoring Platform.
- Enhance patient safety and hospitals’ pharmaceutical systems resilience by digitalising hospital´s medication management pathways.
- Support hospitals to scale up and update their IT infrastructure.
- Provide sustained funding to scale up digital medication management.
- Develop healthcare professionals’ digital skills and provide trained experts to support change management in hospitals.
- Standardise and include medication treatment data from ambulatory care and hospitals in the European Health Data Space.