UCL News


PhD student to focus on how hospital electronic prescribing can improve quality and safety

7 February 2017

New research is focusing on how hospital electronic prescribing can be used to improve safety and quality of medication use, as a part of the UCL Institute of Digital Health (UCL IDH) and Cerner UK collaborative partnership.


Soomal Mohsin-Shaikh has been recruited as a PhD student at UCL, working with Cerner UK, to explore how introducing electronic prescribing and medication administration (EPMA) in the UK hospital context changes work flow and communication around the use of medication, the extent to which staff try to make it fit existing work processes versus process redesign, and how these changes can facilitate improvements in the safety and quality of medication use.

Consideration will be given to exploring the impact on increased patient safety as well as efficiency for integrated versus non-integrated EPMA systems. Anticipated outcomes will include a description of the changes to workflow and practice that result from EPMA, a model of how these changes are perceived to occur, and a description of the characteristics of structures, processes and environment that help organisations achieve quality, efficiency and safety with EPMA.

This studentship is based on a collaborative partnership between UCL and Cerner, an international leader in the development and implementation of healthcare technologies. Academic supervisors are based at UCL School of Pharmacy and the UCL Interaction Centre, a centre of excellence in human-computer interaction research

Dr Justin Whatling, Vice President Cerner and Visiting Professor UCL Institute Digital Health, states "I am delighted at Soomal's appointment. The topic is key because digitisation is not the objective: understanding socio-technological aspects of how technologies are adopted in practice will enable adaptive change, delivering safer and more cost effective care for patients."

Prof Bryony Dean Franklin (UCL School of Pharmacy), Prof Ann Blandford and Dr Dominic Furniss (UCL Interaction Centre), and Dr Pete Hughes (Cerner) are co-supervising Soomal, bringing together expertise in evaluating EPMA technologies and human factors.

Professor Franklin, Professor of Medication Safety at UCL School of Pharmacy, reports "I am delighted to be supervising this PhD, on many levels. There are many important questions around the impact of technology on medication safety and there is little UK evidence to date. This particular PhD research is particularly relevant at a time when more and more UK hospitals are introducing EPMA, or changing from one EPMA system to another. It also represents exciting multidisciplinary collaborations both within UCL and externally with Cerner".

Soomal will spend time at Cerner to gain understanding of their systems. She will also benefit from insights from practitioners and researchers at the UCL IDH, UCL School of Pharmacy and Cerner Symposium on 8th February 2017, which will focus on the opportunities, challenges and experiences of EPMA. This will build on our partnership's goals to bring research and innovations to market quicker.

Soomal Mohsin-Shaikh joined UCL from Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust and up until recently was working as a resident pharmacist across the different sites. She completed her pre-registration year with the Trust, which recently underwent the transition from a paper based to electronic system and gained first-hand experience of the training, challenges and benefits of an electronic interface.

Soomal said: "Research in the area of electronic prescribing and medication administration is growing rapidly. Being part of this developing field gives me the opportunity to bring about positive changes for the future of healthcare."