‘Zero errors, zero-touch, and zero medication waste’. It may sound like an ambitious goal for any budding autonomous pharmacy, but it is one seemingly within reach for Dubai’s Fakeeh University Hospital.
Since adopting the world-renowned ‘autonomous pharmacy framework,’ Fakeeh has made significant reductions in medication errors and wastage, using a system that requires virtually no manual input from clinicians.
Alongside its ‘journey to zero’, the hospital strives to achieve 100 percent regulatory compliance, 100 percent inventory visibility, and the same proportion of pharmacists’ time spent on clinical activities.
Currently, the hospital sits at ‘level 4’ of the 5-tiered framework, with the gold standard ‘level 5’ (fully autonomous) potentially just years away. With no healthcare institution globally yet to reach this milestone, Fakeeh is considered a world leader in pharmacy automation .
Mohamed Magoury, Director of Pharmacy Services at the hospital, believes interoperability (systems that talk to one another), strong leadership, and supply chain enhancements are among the key factors behind Fakeeh’s success to date.
“The more separate your technologies and systems are, the more scope there is for human error,” said Magoury ahead of the eMedication Management Conference hosted by Informa Connect.
“Every time you have to enter data into a new system or device, you are exposing yourself to the risk that it might be entered incorrectly. That’s why we have integrated all of our systems – our EMR, inventory, billing, and other systems. These all contain the same patient and medication data, so clinicians can call upon it no matter which system they are using or which task they are undertaking.”
Having a seamless, centralised IT infrastructure also means the system can be built to provide actionable output. “Data that comes from our systems is presented to us in an actionable way. This leaves no room for interpretation, further standardising the system and the quality of our decision-making,” Magoury said.
With technologies now required for all medication-related tasks, Fakeeh’s entire pharmacy is digital; and its entire data network is integrated. However, an integrated digital system is only effective insofar as staff are comfortable using it, Magoury notes. To this end, an effective change management strategy is essential.
“It is important that hospitals bring staff up to speed with any radical new ways of working. There may be some clinicians that have been in the profession for decades and feel more comfortable using handwritten notes or labels. Change management strategies that promote digital literacy – underpinned by strong leadership – can help ensure a seamless operation.”
Effective change management could also be as simple as educating staff about the benefits of a digital system, Magoury said.
“Essentially, automated pharmacies allow staff to focus on patient-related activity and practice at the top end of their license. This creates a safer experience for patients.
“Additionally, the system can tell clinicians exactly what is needed to be done at every step, removing the need for mundane tasks like reviewing files, packaging and storing, or inventory management. In an era where clinician burnout is at an all-time-high, freeing up capacity in this way is certainly something to celebrate.”
Enhancing connections to outpatient services – and the broader supply chain – can help healthcare settings with the waste reduction aspect of their journey to zero.
“This could be achieved by enabling barcode scanning across the entire journey of the drug, for full tracking and real-time visibility. Additionally, by adopting advanced predictive analytics and business intelligence tools,” Magoury said.
Hear more from Mohamed Magoury at the eMedication Management Conference, hosted by Informa Connect. He will discuss the strategies he uses to lead the digital transformation of pharmacy practices across Fakeeh Care facilities in Dubai and Saudi.
This year’s event will be held virtually and in-person at the 29-30 March at the Swissotel Sydney.