Electronic medication management systems' influence on hospital pharmacists' work patterns

Connie Lo*, Rosemary Burke, Johanna I. Westbrook

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Implementation of electronic medication management systems (eMMS) are advocated to reduce medication errors, improve patient safety and impact on hospital pharmacists' work patterns. Aims: To quantify hospital pharmacists' distribution of their time and to identify differences in work patterns on wards with and without eMMS. Method: An observational time and motion study was conducted at a major Sydney teaching hospital. 8 pharmacists (3 on wards with eMMS, 5 on wards without eMMS) were observed on their wards for 37 hours. Distribution of tasks across work categories, mean task times, tasks performed with others and tasks using information tools, were calculated and compared between wards with and without eMMS. Results: Medication chart review was the most frequently performed task on both ward types. Pharmacists on eMMS wards had lower rates of interruptions (1/19.2 min vs 1/13.7 min) and multi-tasking (2.4% vs 8.7%) than non-eMMS wards. On eMMS wards, review activities were more frequent and faster, fewer 'in-transit' tasks occurred and more work was completed alone compared to non-eMMS wards. Patient care tasks took longer but occurred less often on eMMS wards. Pharmacists on eMMS wards spent more time clarifying medication orders but did it less often than pharmacists on non-eMMS wards. Conclusion: Pharmacists' work patterns in terms of task frequency, duration and location was different on the two ward types. Differences may be attributable to eMMS allowing easy and speedy access to information for reviews; shift away from the bedside to a computer terminal reducing tasks in-transit, interruptions and contact with patients and others; and improved clarity of medication orders reducing queries.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)106-110
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Pharmacy Practice and Research
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2010
Externally publishedYes


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