The Covid-19 pandemic has caused dramatic shifts in the healthcare sector, including the way we prescribe, receive and view prescription medications for both patients and staff alike. Healthcare providers have had to adapt to their patients’ inability to visit them on-site and continue to provide them with the medicine that they need. Various lockdowns have also had an impact on repeat prescriptions, where patients received longer fills of maintenance medications.
Advancements in emerging technology have also played a key role in streamlining workflow, medication management and supporting this transition to patient-centric prescribing. In an age where the consumer is increasingly becoming empowered, healthcare organisations should embrace opportunities to adopt a wide range of patient-centred approaches. Individuals look to get more and more involved in their own care plans and prescribed medication which is incredibly positive! Though with change comes a new set of challenges that facilities must overcome to really make the most of the transition.
The benefits of patient-centred care
Patient-centred care aims to integrate a patient’s values, preferences and long-term goals into clinical decision-making and outcome assessments. It promotes a partnership between the patient and caregiver to achieve better outcomes. Often this is seen in patient-clinician medication discussions, or what is known as ‘patient-led prescribing’. Enabling patients to have more autonomy and control over their prescribed medication means they can have more say in care plan decisions and can research and educate themselves appropriately before arriving at a decision. Other benefits include:
Fewer unnecessary contacts with services
Promoting shared decision making between staff and patients
Encouraging patients to have more involvement in their self-care and wellbeing
Enhancing patient experience and empowering them to better manage their condition
Reducing the demand for appointments and pressures on services
Improving health outcomes and promoting faster recovery
Driving higher staff morale and job satisfaction due to focus on patient-specific needs
Enhancing the reputation of your healthcare organisation as shared decision making makes patients feel they are being taken care of properly
Although there are many positives to arise from patient-led prescribing in patient-centred care, there are also risks healthcare facilities and their staff should be aware of to ensure everyone’s safety, including:
Patients may be leaning towards asking for medication more than normal after an uncertain and turbulent 18 months
Patients may have increased anxiety from researching symptoms online, leading to mis-self-diagnoses and an emphasis on certain medications they don’t need after clinical assessment
Patient-led prescribing is impacting audits and causing organisations to over audit on prescriptions due to the pressure of Covid and clinicians acquiescing to patients’ demands
Some people end up with a continuation of medicines they don’t need
For patients who prefer to consult virtually there is an added risk of staff being unable spot red flags
How to reduce prescription errors
When considering post-Covid pathways to recovery, ensuring the safety of your clinicians will be paramount. The safety and success of self-administration requires ongoing assessment of patients’ ability to participate in their prescribed treatment regimens, as well as extensive training on best practices and:
The right digital tools
Tech can support patient-centric prescription management and streamline workflows, help patients feel more in control of their healthcare and manage their information at their own pace.
They can also keep any health issues recorded and kept up to date on their personal devices, as well as reference any allergies. This also helps to alleviate some of the administrative work, enabling healthcare staff to spend more time on high-value tasks.
Offering valuable support, information, research, and educational materials
Ensure you provide plenty of informative and valuable resources so patients can feel well equipped to make the right decisions for them. Give them options and when time is limited, have sources you can direct them to so they remain informed at all stages of the evaluation and decision-making process.
Use effective screening tools
Online tools can be used to search computer systems to identify patients who are potentially at risk from hazardous prescribing using a set of safety indicators. Healthcare staff would be alerted and can work with pharmacists to resolve the potential prescription error to improve quality of care and ensure patient safety.
Encourage patient care by a multidisciplinary team
Promote collaboration across the healthcare department and involve staff with varying skills in the prescribing decision process, including pharmacists. This will help to reduce errors and ensure patients are provided with high standards of care throughout their diagnosis, recovery and in some cases, rehabilitation.
Keep accurate records and notes from all appointments and medication discussions
When patients are pushing for particular prescriptions that don’t align with your clinical assessment, it is best practice to diligently take notes (like you would for any appointment) to ensure there is a record of the discussion and outcome should a complaint be raised further down the line.
How to access the healthcare professionals you need quickly:
Having access to flexible and quickly deployed skill mixes is vital for filling rotas in the most cost-effective way, especially when there is continued pressure on the NHS and private facilities to provide exceptional patient care. Here at Medical Staffing, we’ve made it our mission to find the best ways to provide healthcare talent based on the individual – and often changing – needs of an organisation.
If you would like to discuss staffing issues, find flexible resourcing solutions that suit the individual needs of your organisation, or just get have some questions answered about how to capitalise on funding in your healthcare organisation so that you feel well prepared for the winter, we would be happy to speak with you.