Govt to tighten electronic medication management in aged care

With over 70% of residential aged care providers now relying on electronic residential medication charts software (eNRMC), the Department of Health and Aged Care (DoHAC) is looking to tighten the legislative requirements around their use as part of proposed changes to the National Health (Pharmaceutical Benefits) Regulations.


As reported in February this year, the DoHAC cancelled Round 3 of its $30 million in grants for operators to take up eNRMCs, after high levels of interest saw initial funds for Rounds 1 and 2 exhausted and additional funds tipped into Round 2.

Under the proposed amendments, pharmacists will only be allowed to dispense medications using access to a live eNRMC compliant chart – not a PDF version.

Paper and PDF versions will only be permitted for up to 24 hours in emergency situations, for example, in a post-hospital discharge scenario when no doctor can be found.

A DoHAC spokesperson told The Weekly SOURCE that the proposed changes do not mandate use of eNRMCs.

“The proposed legislative amendments are intended to ensure that where an electronic National Residential Medication Chart (eNRMC) is being used, pharmacists have access to real time information via the live eNRMC environments to support their clinical decision making and ensure patient safety,” they said.

“Requirements for paper-based medication charts will not change.”

Currently, the eNRMCs operate under a transition framework so both paper and electronic charts can continue to be used.

So, what about the 30% of providers still using paper-based medication charts?

While the proposed changes do not impact these operators, the increased compliance around clinical care in the new strengthened Aged Care Quality Standards will renew the focus on medication management – medication administration and management are regularly the most complained about issue in residential aged care.

study published in 2020 found for every 100 medications dispensed in aged care, there were 72.6 discrepancies, with 48.5% of residents having a discrepancy with the potential to result in moderate harm and 9.8% having a discrepancy with the possibility of severe harm.

Despite the tightening requirements around eNRMCs, electronic medication management significantly reduces the risk of harm to residents and saves time for staff, said BESTMED CEO, Phil Offer.

The medication management solution now services over 100,000 consumers across the sector and is expanding into the home care space.

One of BESTMED’s new residential aged care clients saw a 63% reduction in medication incidents in the first three months after implementing its software across its facilities – there was also a 93% drop in time spent packing the medication trolley and a 72% reduction in time ordering medications.

The eNRMC changes to the regulations are expected to come into effect in the coming months, following consultation with industry.

As published by The Weekly Source, on 14 May, 2024.


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