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Streamlining care for cancer patients

18 July 2012

Health Care

An electronic prescribing system for cancer patients needing chemotherapy has just gone live at Southend University - the first hospital in the Essex Cancer Network to use the technology.

As there are around 550 different combinations - or regimens - of oncology drugs, the hospital is taking a phased approach, starting with treatments for breast cancer. All patients attending for chemotherapy now have their own individual electronic treatment record which can be accessed by all authorised staff involved in their care.

The record charts every step of the patient's treatment - from the moment the consultant makes a decision to treat and orders the drugs to be made up. Staff in the hospital's pharmacy production unit can set to work immediately, taking into account the patient's weight and height to ensure the drug dosage is accurately tailored to each patient.

Project manager, Anjum explained: "Because the drugs are so toxic, it is very important the doses are calculated accurately and the electronic prescribing system will further improve this process. The pharmacy team has created an extremely detailed chemotherapy regimen database which has been expertly checked and validated by pharmacists and clinicians from the breast oncology team."

The system is also capable of booking patients into treatment sessions on one of the chemotherapy centre's 23 treatment chairs and will automatically block out the amount of time needed for individual sessions.

System manager, Ryan Wong, said: "Another key advantage is that every single action is recorded on the system, so that audits can be carried out more efficiently. ChemoCare also allows us to capture vital data which is required at national level."
Following the successful introduction, other tumour sites such as colorectal and lung will gradually go live.

Evelyn Allen, director of pharmacy, said: "With the increasing incidence of cancer and the arrival of new and more complex chemotherapy regimens, Chemo Care will improve patient safety and meet the demands of an expanding service. We are delighted to be the first Trust in the Essex Cancer Network to benefit from its many advantages."