Smart cart

New technology to tackle the challenge of medication rounds in hospitals enabling clinical teams to work smarter, faster and safer

Every year in the UK, there are 273 million medication errors costing the healthcare system a staggering £98 million[1].  The pressure of providing quality care is now at an all-time high, with record levels of bed occupancy and patient workloads in the NHS. Clinical teams are over-stretched with tasks. One such time-consuming area, the patient medication round, is loaded with inefficient processes, which have until now created error, delay and a lack of transparency at the point of medication administration. Now, Omnicell UK & Ireland, a leading provider of medication management solutions and adherence tools for health systems and pharmacies, has partnered with Netherlands-based company Alphatron Medical to introduce the AMiS-PRO Smart Cart to the UK healthcare market to transform nurse workflow on the medication round.

With the Smart Cart, data from the Netherlands suggest that time savings of up to 40 minutes per nurse per shift[2] can be achieved by enabling nurses to make one trip away from the ward for each medication round, rather than one trip away from the ward for every patient as is the case today. It is anticipated that similar time savings will be realised in UK hospitals.  This is achieved by replacing the current process of checking, ordering and administering medication for every patient in turn on the round, with a more efficient process of sending all patient medication orders in sequence from the bedside, followed by one collection and medication administration round, all using the Smart Cart.

The Smart Cart harnesses intelligent technology to combine the functionality of a medication trolley with a computer on wheels, and dedicated locking medication bins. It allows the nurse to view each patient’s electronic patient record (EPR) at the bedside, and then to send medication orders directly to an automated dispensing cabinet (ADC), eradicating the need for checking against printed medication lists and handwritten patient notes, thereby eliminating potential errors.

Once the nurse completes all patient medication orders on the round using the Smart Cart, all medications are collected from the ADC and placed within secured individual patient bins on the Smart Cart before being delivered to each patient, eliminating medication mixing errors that can occur using more traditional medication trolleys.

Finally, through integration with NHS Electronic Patient Record (EPR) and Electronic Medication Administration Record (eMAR) systems, all doses administered can be recorded using the Smart Cart, resulting in closed loop recording of medications, giving full transparency and recording at point of care of what medication was administered, when and by who.

Smart cart

Additional benefits of the Smart Cart include:

  • Elimination of wastage of discontinued medications from the patient bedside locker on patient discharge
  • Built with design and functionality in mind including automatic ergonomic working position, 10+ year lifespan, electrical height adjustment for easy patient interaction, reliable battery with 12+ hr runtime and wifi enabled access to EPR, ERMA and MAR systems.

The benefits and functions of Smart Cart also help wards and hospitals move away from one stop dispensing, and towards dispense for discharge which will alleviate high levels of medication wastage upon discharge.

Currently, the Smart Cart is being trialled in Chesterfield Royal Hospital NHS Foundation Trust. Andrew Hardy, Deputy Chief Pharmacist at the Trust says: “We’re really excited to be trialling this innovative step forward in transforming how medications reach our patients on the round. We’re looking forward to seeing how the Smart Cart allows our nursing staff to spend more time with the patient at the bedside, whilst improving safety and transparency in our medication administration.”

Ed Platt, Commercial Director, Omnicell UK & Ireland comments; “NHS Clinical teams are stretched with the sheer number of patients and the volume of day-to-day tasks.  Never before has there been a greater need to harness technology to drive much needed efficiencies and patient safety.  The new Smart Cart will change nurse workflow within medication administration – freeing nurses up from mundane tasks and giving complete oversight of what has been administered to who and when. We are excited by the pioneering project at Chesterfield Royal Hospital and look forward to rolling this new technology out to more NHS hospitals.”

For more information email: [email protected] or visit: 

1. Rachel Ann Elliott, Elizabeth Camacho, Dina Jankovic, Mark J Sculpher, Rita Faria. Economic analysis of the prevalence and clinical and economic burden of medication error in EnglandBMJ Quality & Safety, 2020; bmjqs-2019-010206 DOI: 10.1136/bmjqs-2019-010206

2. Detailed estimates supplied by Alphatron Medical based on ward round processes in the Netherlands

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NHE May/June 2024

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