Patient safety is the core concept of healthcare, and the rising use of technology can be explained by healthcare establishments’ need to provide patients with a more comfortable and safe environment (Carayon et al., 2014). Such innovations as the Electronic Health Record (EHR) already make some hospitals’ information systems more reliable than before, allowing them to access information and store it securely.
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However, the presence of human errors can still lead to adverse effects on human health. For this reason, the incorporation of an electronic prescribing (e-prescribing) system may contribute to the hospital’s level of innovation, reduce human error, and increase the quality of care (Porterfield, Engelbert, & Coustasse, 2014). However, while the implementation of this technology may positively impact patient safety, one should account for such factors as resistance to change and find ways to communicate the need for it to avoid problems.
The proposed change lies in the implementation of e-prescribing. It is a system that can be used in collaboration with the EHR or separately (Motulsky et al., 2015). E-prescribing allows physicians and nurses to send patients’ prescriptions directly to pharmacies electronically (Porterfield et al., 2014). During this process, the need for paper-based approaches becomes non-existent, eliminating the use of handwritten notes and the reliance on patients’ understanding of the process. Moreover, as this technology can be used together with an EHR system, patients’ information becomes even more centralized, including all health records and prescriptions and the communication with the pharmacy.
Some positive outcomes can be expected as a result of introducing e-prescribing to a hospital. First of all, the possibility of human errors can be significantly reduced (Porterfield et al., 2014). While handwritten notes may be lost, changed, or difficult to read, electronic messages are easy to interpret and impossible to change without having permission from the system. Thus, human interaction with these notes is highly limited, which makes these prescriptions safer for patients. Moreover, the centralized system of storing people’s prescription history can help the hospital’s staff to be always informed about patients’ needs and conditions. E-prescribing can reduce the rate of miscommunication and disinformation among personnel and provide medical workers with a reliable system of data storage. Thus, patient safety is increased by eliminating human errors.
One of the main problems that can influence the process of implementation is the existence of such human factors as resistance to change, the lack of competency, and human error. For instance, physicians may adversely view the introduction of new technology due to the existence of habits and reliance on old experiences (Motulsky et al., 2015). Furthermore, a limited understanding of technology as a whole may also become a barrier to implementation. Such a cognitive burden may affect worker’s job satisfaction and also impact their relationship with the hospital, patients, and other employees (Rosenbaum, 2015). These challenges can be overcome with education for people who work with e-prescription. By helping employees understand why this technology is essential and how it works, the hospital can introduce the new system and have workers who are confident enough to use it without making mistakes.
Measuring the Impact and Implementation
The impact of this change can be measured using the Systems Engineering Initiative for Patient Safety (SEIPS) (Carayon et al., 2014). This system uses a human factors approach to assessing the use of new technology to increase patient safety. The SEIPS model applies a more complicated process of evaluating outcomes and advances in the process than other approaches (Carayon et al., 2014). For example, it can be used to estimate the change in the rate of incorrect or not used prescriptions and see whether patient satisfaction and safety are higher than before. If the proportion of errors is lower with the use of this new technology than it was with older methods, then the implementation may be considered successful.
The implementation of this system would require some preparations. First, employees who are going to work with e-prescribing should be trained to use this system. Next, the hospital should acquire hardware necessary for the technology and install software that is fit for the establishment according to its size and number of users and patients. Furthermore, a period of adjustment should be established to allow users to shift from a traditional paper-based prescription process to a new system.
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Finally, the assessment of the new technology’s efficiency should be included to make some additional changes and see whether it is working as planned. Communication with workers and patients is a significant part of every mentioned step because it may help employees to overcome their resistance to change and patients to understand the necessity of the new technology. Moreover, the continuous interaction may help uncover some issues with the implementation in their early stages.
The need for new technology arises because of hospitals’ need to provide patients with a safe environment and high-quality care. As patient safety often depends on human factors, the use of such technology as e-prescribing can significantly benefit patients and employees as well. With successful implementation, e-prescribing can reduce human errors, store patients’ data in a secure place and create a more reliable way of communicating with pharmacies. Resistance to change and other human factors can be overcome with training and communication.
Carayon, P., Wetterneck, T. B., Rivera-Rodriguez, A. J., Hundt, A. S., Hoonakker, P., Holden, R., & Gurses, A. P. (2014). Human factors systems approach to healthcare quality and patient safety. Applied Ergonomics, 45(1), 14-25.
Motulsky, A., Sicotte, C., Gagnon, M. P., Payne-Gagnon, J., Langué-Dubé, J. A., Rochefort, C. M., & Tamblyn, R. (2015). Challenges to the implementation of a nationwide electronic prescribing network in primary care: A qualitative study of users’ perceptions. Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association, 22(4), 838-848.
Porterfield, A., Engelbert, K., & Coustasse, A. (2014). Electronic prescribing: Improving the efficiency and accuracy of prescribing in the ambulatory care setting. Perspectives in Health Information Management, 11. Web.
Rosenbaum, L. (2015). Transitional chaos or enduring harm? The EHR and the disruption of medicine. New England Journal of Medicine, 373(17), 1585-1588.