Understanding the implementation, impact and sustainable use of an electronic pharmacy referral service at hospital discharge: A qualitative evaluation from a sociotechnical perspective

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The transition of patients across care settings is associated with a high risk of errors and preventable medication-related harm. Ensuring effective communication of information between health professionals is considered important for improving patient safety. A National Health Service(NHS) organisation in the North West of England introduced an electronic transfer of care around medicines (TCAM) system which enabled hospital pharmacists to send information about patient’s medications to their nominated community pharmacy. We aimed to understand the adoption, and the implications for sustainable use in practice of the TCAM service
We evaluated the TCAM service in a Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and NHS Foundation Trust in Salford, United Kingdom (UK).Participants were opportunistically recruited to take part in qualitative interviews through stakeholder networks and during hospital admission, and included hospital pharmacists, hospital pharmacy technicians, community pharmacists, general practice-based pharmacists, patients and their carers. A thematic analysis, that was iterative and concurrent with data collection, was undertaken using a template approach. The interpretation of the data was informed by broad sociotechnical theory.
Twenty-three interviews were conducted with health care professionals patients and carers.The ways in which the newly implemented TCAM intervention was adopted and used in practice and the perceptions of it from different stakeholders were conceptualised into four main thematic areas: The nature of the network and how it contributed to implementation, use and sustainability; The material properties of the system; How work practices for medicines safety were adapted and evolved; and The enhancement of medication safety activities. The TCAM intervention was perceived as effective in providing community pharmacists with timely, more accurate and enhanced information upon discharge. This allowed for pharmacists to enhance clinical services designed to ensure that accurate medication reconciliation was completed, and the correct medication was dispensed for the patient.
By providing pharmacy teams with accurate and enhanced information the TCAM intervention supported healthcare professionals to establish and/or strengthen interprofessional networks in order to provide clinical services designed to ensure that accurate medication reconciliation and dispensing activities were completed. However, the intervention was implemented into a complex and at times fragmented network, and we recommend opportunities be explored to fully integrate this network to involve patients/carers, general practice pharmacists and two-way communication between primary and secondary care to further enhance the reach and impact of the TCAM service.

Bibliographical metadata

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0261153
JournalPLoS ONE
Publication statusPublished - 22 Dec 2021