How the pharmacy team is using CareFlow Connect to break down barriers at University Hospitals Bristol & Weston
Streamlining workflow and communications across care teams to improve the patient experience.
The clinical hospital pharmacists at University Hospitals Bristol and Weston Foundation Trust (UHBW), work as part of a multidisciplinary healthcare team to manage the use of medicines for patients. So, it is vital that their workflow and communication with colleagues, both internal and external, are clear and consistent, to ensure that patients get the best standard of care possible. This includes pharmacists working within GP practices (PCN pharmacists).
In the past, communication between the clinical pharmacists at UHBW, and teams in other departments, as well as with pharmacists working in the community, has been manual and time-consuming. It has often relied on paper, pagers and even formal letters and emails. It was not uncommon for a pharmacist to receive a bleep, and then spend the next few hours trying to locate and respond to that person on the wards, by phone or pager. When it came to working with PCN pharmacists, information tended to be shared via email, with slow response times, in-box clutter and poor trackability. Clearly, this wasn’t the most efficient way of working.
The UHBW pharmacists wanted a solution that would enable a faster, more direct line of communication among all members of the patient care team.
Now, we laugh when we think about the old way of doing things. Using CareFlow Connect has become the norm. Because it allows group task allocation, and secure messaging – in real time – we can collaborate with pharmacists and other healthcare professionals, wherever they are.
Rick Cooper, Lead Pharmacist Clinical Informatics at UHBW.
Why CareFlow Connect?
CareFlow Connect is a secure and mobile clinical communications and collaboration system designed to facilitate faster and safer care co-ordination for clinical teams within a hospital and across a care community. The platform allows clinicians to manage patient care from a mobile device, share tasks and medical information with other care teams and exchange instant messages, WhatsApp-style.
Among other things, the ability to self-organise and communicate as a team, regardless of location, and to know when information has been received and read, appealed to the UHBW pharmacy team.
After UHBW adopted CareFlow Connect in 2019, the pharmacy team was one of the first to go-live and successfully demonstrate the benefits of digital care co-ordination with new capabilities such as electronic messaging, handovers, task management and referrals.
To achieve this success, the pharmacy leads undertook a strategic review of the team’s structure, processes, and interactions across the Trust and recruited clinical champions to help bring staff on board. CareFlow Connect is now widely used across the Trust and is being rolled out to enable safe and efficient care co-ordination between secondary, community and social care across the ICS region.
Specific benefits to the pharmacy team have included:
Cost savings and efficiency
- With the introduction of CareFlow Connect, task allocation has moved from individuals to teams, meaning that any appropriate member of the clinical pharmacy team can pick up and complete something that needs to be done – rather than waiting for a specific individual to be available. This is a more efficient, seamless way of operating and means that important tasks can be prioritized and ticked off at a faster rate.
- The WhatsApp style of communicating is saving the Trust money. The pharmacy team have banished the bleep with pagers now a distant memory. Rather than renting bleeps, everything is now done via the CareFlow platform.
- Within the hospitals, the system is improving efficiency by reducing duplication and ensuring information is available to clinicians and pharmacists across the Trust
- The system has removed the use of bits of paper and post-it notes clipped to the front of drug charts as prompts to supply medications. Using CareFlow to digitally target supply of medicines has improved reliability, timeliness, confidentiality, and accountability for the process. This is saving time, cutting down on paperwork and reducing the potential of ordering errors (for example, a pharmacist missing a note that medicine stock needs to be replenished).
- Along with the clinical team, the hospital dispensary pharmacists have also started using CareFlow Connect to effectively manage incoming orders.
Improving the patient experience
- Handover is easier and more accurate than ever before, with CareFlow Connect allowing the UHBW pharmacists to share patient notes. All entries are logged with a user and date/time stamped to create a robust audit trail.
- Externally, the instant messaging and document sharing functionality has improved communications with PCN pharmacists, meaning that crucial patient information can be shared and accessed when it is needed, resulting in more joined-up care for the patient.
- An unexpected benefit has been the part the new system has played in network building. Individual pharmacist details can be viewed on the CareFlow Connect platform, with an accompanying photo. In the past, some in the pharmacy department have felt slightly distant from the rest of the hospital, possibly because they are not on the wards as regularly as other healthcare professionals. Being able to put a face to a name, through CareFlow Connect, has brought a feeling of familiarity and togetherness. It is helping the pharmacy team break down barriers, and move towards a more integrated, professional, team-based approach.
As with any digital transformation, there are always people that are a little uncertain about the change. However, as soon as people started using CareFlow Connect, they loved it. Any concerns have fallen by the wayside.
Rick Cooper, Lead Pharmacist Clinical Informatics at UHBW.