The practice of pharmacy is essential to the delivery of health care services today. In our latest employee profile, we chat to Implementation Lead Nick Bigland, who has forged a career in patient-centered care by ensuring patients’ medications are available in a safe and timely manner. Based in the UK, Nick share his experiences on what makes electronic system implementations successful and how he will be leading Alcidion’s OPENeP implementation at the Dartford and Gravesham NHS Trust.
Hi Nick! Can you tell us about you background?
My career in the healthcare started in community pharmacy, before I made the transition to acute hospital pharmacy. I was fortunate to cover all the elements within a hospital pharmacy setting including dispensary, aseptic and chemotherapy, before moving into a ward-based pharmacy technician role. This exposure made me appreciate how much pharmacy interacts and plays a vital role within safer patient care. It has also shown me the benefits of electronic systems in the hospital setting in improving care and speeding up patient discharges, as well as the need for reliable data to improve decision-making.
What is your experience working with NHS trusts in the implementation of electronic systems?
I’ve worked on both the customer and supplier side so I understand the need for a successful system implementation. During my role as an ePMA (electronic prescribing and medicines administration) pharmacy technician at the East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust, I was part of a team responsible for the roll out of the ePMA system throughout the trust. In my most recent role at healthcare software provider EMIS Health, I was responsible for ePMA implementations as well as Full Hospital Pharmacy installations, Parenteral Nutrition solutions and Aseptic / Central Intravenous Additive Service products. I managed a team of domain and product specialists, overseeing the benefit of multiple electronic systems within the NHS care settings. I worked on projects across the UK and in Hong Kong.
What do you believe are essential steps for successful ePMA adoption / implementation?
It’s been said that only 23 per cent of a successful product implementation is attributed to the product, while the majority of its success is down to actual implementation and business transformation. In my experience, this is true. The importance of onboarding and engaging clinical staff during the deployment of a new solution cannot be overstated. The ultimate measure of success is that people are using the system. Incorporating senior clinical staff such as the Chief Clinical Information Officer, throughout the implementation process will ensure the best outcomes for the organisation.
How do you believe trusts can improve and optimise the way they use their electronic systems?
By prioritising interoperability and digital transformation. In terms of interoperability, there is a clear need to share data between systems to improve the seamless flow of information between care settings. Across NHS Trusts in the UK, progress on interoperability is accelerating due to the development and adoption of standards such as FHIR (fast healthcare interoperability). There is also a growing consensus that everyone in the healthcare industry plays a role in making interoperability happen for greater, safer and quality patient care. Digital transformation is all about having the right plumbing in place for this to happen, by utilising existing systems and embedding open standards into new technology stacks.
You’ll be leading on Alcidion’s OPENeP implementation at Dartford – can you tell us more about this?
I am excited to lead Dartford and Gravesham NHS Trust on their OPENeP journey, the implementation of a comprehensive electronic prescribing and medication management system. The product is truly one of the best in the market and has proven benefits in many different specialised areas. Following the initial installation, we are now working on a strategy with the customer for a successful implementation. This includes collaborating with our partners at Better and the clinical teams at Dartford to conduct configure, train and test the system to ensure the go-live is a success.
As the NHS continues to digitise, why is collaboration between hospitals and tech companies so important?
There is so much choice available to the NHS as to which direction they should go. Continued collaboration and communication between hospitals and technology companies needs to be open and fluid, so we can all work together to shape the future of healthcare in the UK. Greater knowledge sharing leads to greater efficiencies and better processes. This is particularly important in the acute care space, which is struggling under the demands of the service. There is also a need to look at the sharing of data and systems within the primary and community setting.
What aspects of your role at Alcidion excite you the most?
In one word – everything. The product set at Alcidion is exciting and innovative, with demonstrated potential to improve the patient journey, increase efficiencies, facilitate more informed clinical decision making and allow for greater use of data. We are truly in a unique position to help healthcare organisations on their digital transformation journeys.