ePMA Implementation – Experiences from East London Foundation NHS Trust

Background and Methods

East London Foundation NHS Trust provides mental health and community health services to 3 boroughs in London and to Luton and Bedfordshire.  There are over 5500 employees of which nearly 1500 are nurses, nearly 400 doctors and 404 therapists and allied health professionals.  There are 9 inpatient sites and 56 wards with nearly 900 beds most of which provide mental health care. The trust has embarked on an ambitious digital transformation programme with various new innovations. However despite the significant steps taken in implementing Electronic Health Records, mobile working, electronic correspondence, our medicines management and prescribing was still very much paper based and this was impacting on the ability to share a complete patient record with our partners and was also negatively impacting on our digital maturity. Our Pharmacy Stock Control system was electronic while prescribing and administration was manual. There were significant benefits in introducing EPMA including, reduction of administration errors, reduction in prescribing errors , and reduced drug administration times for nurses as well as remote prescribing. The project kicked off on the 1stof April 2018. Our pilot site went LIVE on the 27thof November 2018 with one ward. 2 fast follower wards were added in January and February of 2019.

Post pilot, it has taken 1 year to deploy EPMA on all our mental health wards. Our EPMA rollout to the remaining 50 mental health wards commenced  in  April 2019 and we are on schedule to complete the EPMA rollout by end of March 2020.


Lessons learnt – How could others do this

  1. Visible senior/executive project and change sponsorship – the introduction of EPMA is a significant change in process, practice and culture. The pace of change and the resulting disruption can result in significant resistance even from middle managers. An engaged senior and executive management team can go a long way towards “selling” the benefits and expediting adoption.
  2. Resourcing: Dedicated subject matter experts (pharmacists, nurses, doctors, IT technicians) working FULL TIME in a multi-disciplinary project team makes for better understanding of the end users’ challenges, ensures better targeted communication, ensures relevant and high quality profession specific training and expedites issue resolution.
  3. Supplier management: Understand your supplier, hold them to account. Understand their deployment methodology, tools and communication methods. Ensure you understand what they require from your organisation in order to deploy the application, upgrade and deliver fixes. Demand supplier side project plans and key contacts within their organisation.