In response to the on-going pressure for more efficient and effective healthcare services, the latest mandate for the NHS includes the implementation of healthcare IT solutions that improve patient care and experience.

The mandate – which remains committed to the Five Year Forward View – has six top priorities for the NHS healthcare system, including placing equal importance on the patient experience alongside clinical effectiveness and safety. Cancer support is also a top-of-mind focus and transformation of the support systems in place for people living with or living beyond cancer is underway.

What’s more, the NHS is striving to achieve a consistent level of safety and care irrespective of the day of admission of a patient. By 2020 the NHS aims for every patient to have increased access to routine healthcare  in the evenings and at weekends, as well as 24/7 access to urgent care to  combat the variations in in-hospital mortality rate among patients admitted when there are less available staff.

The document also attempts to address the fact that the mortality rate of those with mental health problems appears higher than those who are suffering general health problems. According to Mental Health Foundation UK, one in four people in the UK suffer from a mental illness and there are over 40,000 reported deaths among seriously mentally ill patients.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) published their annual State of Care report in October 2015 in which they revealed that patient safety is being compromised by poor medicines management in many NHS Trusts and adult social care services.  Lack of stock in general and in particular insufficient amounts of emergency drugs; medicines that are out-of-date which are not being disposed of; and prescriptions not being processed in a timely manner are placing many patients at serious risk of harm or even death.

Medicines management is therefore crucial to tackling these issues and achieving adequate and safe health care systems. Medicines management will play an especially crucial role for mental health medicines and cancer care because often these conditions require more complicated therapies than general healthcare as they rely on very specific, timed administrations, detailed record keeping and understanding hugely variable contextual issues.

The fact that there’s been a recent surge of investment and an increase in the procurement of ePrescribing systems lately shows that decision-makers are looking seriously at medicines management. However, ePrescribing alone won’t effectively guard against the full spectrum of current concerns of the NHS. Only a fully-integrated end-to-end medicines management platform that allows automated supply, decision-support for clinicians, real-time monitoring, analysis of the large volumes data accumulated and provides a comprehensive audit trail can make a significant enough impact on patient safety and efficiency. Greater control of medicines information is fundamental to providing seamless care and the harnessing the wealth of intelligence that can be garnered from the data.

In order for the NHS to achieve what it has set out to accomplish in its mandate it needs to carefully look at underpinning its healthcare strategies on robust medicines management systems. Those systems must be adaptive and comprehensive enough to reach across different care settings, time of day, whether they are in hospital or out of hospital or any other variables that create inequalities across our care services.

Rob Blay, CEO JAC Medicines Management