pharmacy inspections GPhC regulations, standards, patient safety

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

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

The General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) has begun publishing pharmacy inspection reports for the first time. Each inspection looks at whether standards are being met and how well-run the pharmacy is. Inspections also look at whether the pharmacy is providing medicines and other services safely, protecting people’s privacy and providing the right training for staff. 

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 has launched an online ‘knowledge hub’, providing anonymous short examples of excellent, good and poor practice from 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. However, standards that were commonly missed 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, protecting patient safety and upholding quality of care.

Robust mechanisms for managing pharmacy services and operations

The correct storage of medicines is vital for delivering quality care and maintaining customer trust. Vaccine and medicine storage must meet the pharmacy temperature monitoring guidelines issued by the MHRA. The GPhC also requires compliance with regulations, to protect standards and ensure best practice.

Manual temperature monitoring can often be compromised. Busy staff are short on time and often under pressure. As a result, safety procedures can be overlooked or incomplete. With manual temperature monitoring it’s also impossible to determine how long stock has been exposed to an out-of-spec temperature. So, the only safe option is to dispose of the stock.

Preventing loss of stock is 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. To manage effectively you need data-driven insights. Manual temperature monitoring provides little trending data to spot potential failures. It’s harder to identify missing dates and weak processes, meaning temperature excursions are not acted upon, placing patients at risk. 

By automating the monitoring of temperature-sensitive stock, you can immediately receive alarm notifications for any temperature variation in the storage environment – as soon as it happens. Additionally, storage data is collected and saved, which feeds into an audit trail.

A proactive approach to pharmacy management

As well as temperature checks, good pharmacy management can be supported through digital checklists. Using cloud-based technology, you can move away from paper-based records for day-to-day tasks. Real-time checklists can improve efficiency and consistency, freeing up staff to focus on more demanding duties.

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. As a result, process adherence and compliance are patchy, leading to unreliable records. Connected Workflow Management can bring efficiencies, whether for medicine management routines or for processes that ensure patient safety.

Efficient processes

Automated temperature monitoring and digitised checklists via Connected Workflow Management can reduce paper-driven, manual processes. This saves time, allowing staff to focus on patient-led 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.

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 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 shortcomings and be responsive.

Real-time reporting via technology enables greater responsiveness. Team leaders can immediately see when corrective action is needed quickly to safeguard valuable stock. And as part of ongoing improvement programme, the data helps identify ways to streamline work and enable a more patient-centric service. 

Customer and patient focus

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

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 and gain 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. 

Learn more about Connected Workflow Management

Find out how our Connected Automated Monitoring + solution is is designed to meet the rigorous demands of healthcare and medical environments.

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