ATLAS GP links Care Homes and GPs
The New Year sees the release of ATLAS GP, an additional function on the ATLAS eMAR system which is set to be a game changer for care homes.
ATLAS is the first eMAR to be NHS approved to link directly with GP prescribing systems. This means that care homes can now place their prescription requests through ATLAS GP directly into prescribing systems. They will then get an instant notification if the prescription is going to be issued or not. This is set to improve the transparency of the process and save many staff hours spent chasing pharmacies and surgeries for prescriptions and supply.
The benefits of ATLAS GP don’t stop just at prescription ordering. Atlas GP will allow care staff to view the resident’s record on the GP system and ensure discrepancies can be identified early on, rather than at the last minute. Reconciling the GP records against the care home record is also a CQC requirement and failure to have an effective process is often the cause of many failed inspections and safeguarding incidents. Atlas is the only system that allows this to be performed digitally.
Care staff will also see when the prescriptions have been issued and track their journey to the pharmacy. Upon arrival, the pharmacist can reconcile the prescriptions received against the original order and get on with the task of dispensing.
The Prescription Ordering Process
Care homes typically work on 4-week cycles in terms of medication supply. Around 3 weeks before the medication cycle begins, care home staff identify the stock that needs ordering and place the requests with the surgery. How the order is placed depends on the surgery; some are willing to accept email requests whilst others require repeat slips to be individually ticked off and handed in personally. For a 30-bed home this process can take several hours and is made worse if multiple surgeries are involved, each with their own preferences. Many supplying pharmacies offer to manage this process. Although their process is no better, they are willing to sacrifice their time in the interests of supporting their care home.
And this is just the beginning. Surgeries typically take 5 days to issue prescriptions leaving very little time for dealing with discrepancies. Often the prescriptions arrive with many items still missing or items issued which had not been ordered. Directions for administration are changed without explanation and quantities are either excessive or insufficient for the 4-week cycle. Unraveling this mess falls upon the care home staff who frantically go back and forth between the pharmacy and surgery until the discrepancies are narrowed down. Finally, after several man days have been consumed, the supplies are made to the care home just in time for the staff to book them in before the new cycle starts.
ATLAS eMAR helps
Atlas eMAR was the first electronic medicines management system introduced into the UK. The system helps manage drug administration using barcode technology. As well as improving patient safety and managing stock, Atlas significantly improved communication between care homes and pharmacy through a unique two-way data transfer. In this way, the pharmacy knows the status of every drug and administration at the care home in real time. Likewise, the care home can see which prescriptions have arrived in the pharmacy.
Although Atlas has greatly helped medicines management in care homes, and improved efficiencies and communication between pharmacists and care staff, the issues relating to repeat prescription ordering with GPs described above, remained unresolved until now.
New Atlas GP Integration
In another first Atlas, has become the first NHS approved eMAR system to have full integration with GP systems allowing care home staff to electronically order their prescriptions directly with the surgery. Instead of sending emails or manually filling out repeat slips, care staff will be able to use the ATLAS GP function to electronically request all their residents’ medication from the respective GP system. Essentially, the order will skip the receptionist and go to the doctor for authorization.
This digital process of sending prescription requests is being promoted by CCGs nationally and is typically referred to as “Proxy Medication Ordering”. ATLAS GP uses the “Proxy Medication Ordering” access codes that the surgeries issue to care homes to enable the requests to go directly into the GP prescribing systems.
ATLAS GP offers several advantages to the care homes beyond the standard “Proxy Medication Ordering” which include:
ATLAS GP displays current stock levels and usage of each medicine so that care homes can be selective about which medication needs a prescription request.
Care homes that already use ATLAS eMAR do not need to change their workflows or duplicate their work.
There is no need to log in to multiple websites for placing prescription requests if care homes are serviced by multiple surgeries.
The supplying pharmacy is automatically informed of the prescription requests.
Care homes receive notifications against each prescription request and there are alerts and well thought out workflows if surgeries do not issue a prescription.
Care home staff are alerted to discrepancies between the residents’ medication records on the GP system and at the care home.
To find out how you can get ATLAS GP click here
NHS approval and assurance
ATLAS GP had to go through the NHS’s quality assurance process to be able to use the “Proxy Medication Ordering” process that was set up with all the GP prescribing systems. As part of this process ATLAS had to submit a safety case and demonstrate that it was compliant with the NHS’s standard DCB0129: Clinical Risk Management: its Application in the Manufacture of Health IT Systems. This standard and the rigorous NHS approval process provides further reassurances for care homes using ATLAS eMAR.
The future of technology
Our health and social care system is full of inefficiencies wherever you look. Unfortunately, increasing workload pressures and staff shortages means that we do not have the luxury to sustain these inefficiencies. Technology has the potential of smoothing out the processes and Atlas GP is a perfect example of how we can change practice, improve quality and save time for care staff, GPs and Pharmacists.
Interoperability between systems is a must as we move into an increasingly digital age. Over the last few years, Atlas eMAR has also been widening its integrations with care planning systems and other technologies used in social care. The vision is to create a true ecosystem that makes use of shared data across multiple platforms for the common good of maximizing resident care through a multidisciplinary approach. With every integration, we get one step closer to realizing this vision.
To find out more about ATLAS eMAR including ATLAS GP click here