Electronic Pharmacist Intervention Clinical System

Patient safety in Northern Ireland can be enhanced via the use of EPICS (Electronic Pharmacist Intervention Clinical System). This novel software package, designed in conjunction with a local software company, enables pharmacy staff to record in real-time their clinical activities and clinical interventions (any action taken to correct a problem identified in a patient’s medications). These recorded interventions are archived for subsequent analysis. NHS data standards such as the dictionary of medicines and devices (dm+d) and the National Patient Safety Agency (NPSA) risk matrix are already fully integrated into EPICS and the software is designed to be compatible with NHS computer systems UK-wide.

Learning from data

EPICS provides an agreed, comprehensive, consistent approach to recording clinical pharmacy data in a digital format. This standardisation of data ensures that every user is recording the same information in the same way at every site, while the paperless format helps to protect confidentiality and avoid data loss. This combination of both uniformity of approach and digital format means that data can be analysed quickly and easily at both local and regional level to allow meaningful benchmarking. With this in mind a suite of reports is available which can analyse the data at both the quantitative and qualitative levels. 

EPICS can be linked to hospital incident reporting systems (e.g. DATIX) to improve learning from critical incidents in line with NPSA best practice. EPICS is designed to identify problem medications, the early detection of emergent trends, and to promote systemic learning so that ‘… the risk of avoidable harm to patients is minimised’ in line with the aspirations of An organisation with a memory.

Four of the five Healthcare Trusts in NI are already using EPICS. Work is currently on-going to extend the reach of EPICS into community pharmacies in primary care. This will make clinical governance and medicines management tools available to pharmacists across the healthcare continuum in both primary and secondary care. This extension would ensure a fully integrated optimal medicines management system utilising standard technologies. This would have significant benefits for improving safety & quality of patient care, continuity of service and health analytics.