Healthcare unidose solutions to increase patient safety

How do you get the right medicine with the right dosage to the right patient at exactly the right time? This appears to be a major challenge for numerous hospitals and other health care institutions. Patient safety is a top priority, after all. This also applies in the context of the accreditation objectives.

For quite some time now, H.Essers (Hospital Logistics) has been active in the world of hospitals, with supply chain optimisations for sterile and non-sterile goods. Sustainable solutions for the unidose of medicines and traceability of implants are in line with these optimisations. Many hospitals are already taking their first step towards the development of their unidosing. But from a supply chain perspective, this first step is often not well substantiated.

Unidose is usually performed by (semi-)manual cutting of medication blister packs. Packages of unidosed medicines are prepared at the patient level 24 hours before their administration. However, if the doctor decides to change something in his medical policy, the order is no longer correct, and the medicines are partially returned (+/- 15%).

Subsequently, they are replaced in the ward, where the lot number, expiry date, or correct administration of the replacement medicines have not been checked equally thoroughly. Thus, there is no ‘real’ solution. Moreover, medicines are sometimes removed from their original packaging. Which of course does not comply with patient-safety policies.

100% control

The new solution offers 100% control over these challenges. The cutting of the blister packs is fully automatic. Medicines are stored in their original packaging and provided with a GS1 matrix code. This code, which can contain up to 128 digits, is the common thread in this solution.

In contrast to the more limited barcode, this matrix code can not only include then the name of the medication and the lot number, but also the expiry date and the serial number. Thus, every pill is given a unique number that is linked to a unique patient and a unique time.

Is a medicine to be returned? Then the matrix code ensures that this is registered in the return system, and that the medicine is not included in the electronic patient record, nor on the patient's account.

The distribution of unidose medicines takes place via secure automated distribution machines. On the basis of the electronic prescription, the nurse or doctor is accompanied by pick-to-light technology to collect the right medicines just before they are administered to the patient. This means they can also be collected at the last minute, so returns are a lot less frequent than in a traditional system.

Through these automated machines, the pharmacist is in full control of the medicine supplies to the various wards, including the related information such as lot number, expiry date, dosage ....

Now that more and more hospitals in Belgium are making the transition to similar concepts, we are preparing to spread this approach internationally. Moreover, we are currently engaging in an increase in capital to be able to realise this in optimum conditions.

For more info, please contact Jan Lampaert, jan.lampaert@hospitallogistics.be.

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