pharmacy inspections GPhC regulations, standards, patient safety

Learning from GPhC pharmacy inspections – how technology can help you in meeting standards

The below content was written prior to May 2020 when Checkit launched a new website. This coincided with the use of updated terminology for solutions, concepts and company names. The companies Tutela, Axon and Next Control Systems are now Checkit. Checkit’s Real-time Operations Management is now referred to as Connected Workflow Management, Tutela solutions are now referred to as Automated Monitoring +, and Axon/Next Control Systems solutions are now referred to as Connected Building Management.

The General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) are for the first time publishing pharmacy inspection reports into the public domain. Each inspection looks at standards met; how-well run the pharmacy is; if the pharmacy is providing medicines and other services safely, is protecting people’s privacy and confidentiality and providing the right training for staff, giving them the skills they need. 

Duncan Rudkin, Chief Executive of the GPhC, said:

“Publishing inspection reports for the first time is a significant milestone in pharmacy regulation and gives the public and the pharmacy sector access to a wealth of information that they can use to inform the decisions they make.”

To support pharmacies the GPhC have launched an online ‘knowledge hub’, providing anonymous short examples of excellent, good and poor practice identified through their inspections.  

The GPhC has also published a new report sharing what it has learnt from carrying out over 14,000 inspections covering every registered pharmacy in Great Britain since 2013. The majority of pharmacies (over 85%) met all of the standards set by the regulator. Yet standards that were most commonly not met often related to managing medicines and devices, managing risks and keeping records. 

Taking the themes from the GPhC Insights Report- Learning from Inspections we have considered how technology can assist with meeting GPhC standards and assist with protecting patient safety and quality of care.

Robust mechanisms for managing pharmacy services and operations

The correct storage of medicines is vital for delivering quality care and maintain customer trust. Manual temperature monitoring can often be compromised. Busy staff are short on time, under pressure and so safety procedures can be overlooked or incomplete. With manual temperature monitoring it’s also not possible to determine how long stock has been exposed to the out of spec temperature. So, the only safe option is to bin the stock. By automating the monitoring of your temperature sensitive stock, you can receive alarm notifications on any variances. And storage data is collected and saved, keeping an audit trail.

As well as temperature checks, good pharmacy management can be supported through digital checklists. Using cloud-based technology, you can look to move day to day tasks away from paper-based records. Digital real-time checklists can improve efficiency and consistency, freeing up staff to do their real job.

A proactive approach to pharmacy management

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To manage effectively you need to have data that gives insights. Manual temperature monitoring provides little in the way of trending data to spot potential failures, missing dates, as well as weak processes, mean temperature excursions are not acted upon placing patients at risk. 

Preventing loss of stock should be a high priority for pharmacy managers. It’s been estimated that £300m of stock is written off each year throughout the pharmacy healthcare provision. Examine your loss of stock in medicines for the last 12 months and you can see the savings possible from implementing an automated temperature monitoring system.

Today, businesses usually rely on digital systems for the data they need. But when it comes to guiding the actual work people do, most still rely on pen and paper. Meaning process adherence and compliance is patchy, with the records unreliable. Using technology to improve work management can bring efficiencies. Whether this be for routines around medicine management or for processes that ensure patient safety.

Avoiding wasted time
Automated temperature monitoring and digitised checklists via work management technology can reduce paper driven, manual processes. This saves staff time, allowing them to focus on patient lead healthcare tasks. Technology is an enabler, making working practice more efficient. Real-time visibility of data, stored centrally can bring efficiencies across your pharmacy team.

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Efficient processes
Pharmacies that were well organised and using efficient processes across a range of activities were found to perform better overall by the GPhC. Using technology to support these processes can bring added value. Unfortunately, manual temperature checking is inefficient, time-consuming and prone to human error. Automating this process provides peace of mind, with real-time live monitoring 24/7.

Monitoring processes through paper checklists is also open to error. Identify insights from manual recording is hard. With learning opportunities and corrective actions for improvement hard to identify. By digitising your work processes you can identify short comings and be responsive.

Responsiveness
Real-time reporting via technology enables greater responsiveness. In the immediate term when corrective action is needed quickly to safe-guard valuable stock, or as part of on-going improvements, when identifying how to stream-line work to enable a more patient centric service. 

With automated temperature monitoring an alarm can be notified to you and your team. Making you aware of temperature excursions in the storage environment immediately. With manual temperature monitoring it’s not possible to determine how long the stock was exposed to the out of spec temperature. So, the only safe option is to bin the stock – an added, preventable cost. 

Customer and patient focus
Automating processes, means you can free up staff from non-added value activities, freeing them to care for patients and do their main tasks. 

Medicines must be prescribed, dispensed and administered safely and effectively. Safe storage of medicines is something we all expect. With vaccine and medicine storage having to meet pharmacy temperature monitoring guidelines issued by the MHRA. The GPhC also require compliance with regulations, to protect standards and ensure best practice. With patient safety at the core of these regulations.

Today the public trust in retail pharmacy is under pressure from online providers. For high street pharmacies to retain business they need to demonstrate the value of their service, gaining public trust. The temperature of each fridge in every pharmacy around the country needs to be carefully monitored to ensure safe storage. Processes that protect patient safety and confidentiality need to be robust. And now, with GPhC publishing inspection reports, people can make informed decisions when choosing their pharmacy service. 

Is your medicine management meeting expectations?
Are your processes and compliance procedures in place?

Checkit task management for auditing and compliance

Learn more about MHRA compliant temperature monitoring from Tutela Monitoring Systems who are part of Checkit

Find out about our smart sealed temperature sensors

Learn more about digitised work management

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