Background The pharmacy department communicates information by emailing memos to clinical staff. Paper copies are also distributed to clinical areas. Previous research highlighted poor awareness of information distributed via these channels.
Purpose The aim of the project was to examine current communication methods, explore alternative methods and to improve the effectiveness of communication between the pharmacy and other departments and wards.
Material and methods A pharmacist-led multi-disciplinary team, including pharmacists, pharmaceutical technicians, clinical nurse managers (CNMs), a non-consultant hospital doctor (NCHD) and a dietician, carried out a Quality Improvement project.
Voice of the Customer (VOC) – Critical to Quality (CTQ) and CTQ-Measure Quality Improvement tools were used to develop an 18-question survey. Question categories included:
Current process questions e.g. ‘Where do you currently look for pharmacy information?’.
Knowledge of information disseminated in recent memos.
Barriers to receiving pharmacy information.
Preferred means of receiving pharmacy information.
Sixty staff (18 NCHDs, 20 nurses, 14 CNMs, eight dieticians) were asked to complete the survey: the response rate was 100%. Cause and Effect analysis was carried out to identify factors leading to communication problems. Based on the findings, alternative communication techniques were proposed and piloted over a 2 week period.
Results Significant variation in how memos were displayed on wards was evident.
Seventy per cent of nurses surveyed checked their emails once-weekly or less frequently, indicating that this is not an effective method of communication.
Twenty-five per cent of nurses surveyed and 17% of NCHDs surveyed were aware of the contents of a recent pharmacy memo.
Respondents in all categories indicated a preference for verbal communication of pharmacy information.
Pilot results Memos were displayed on wards in a display folder known as the ‘Pharmacy Communication Hub’. Awareness of recent memos increased from 25% to 69% of nurses surveyed.
Verbal communication of urgent memos by pharmacists to NCHDs was piloted. Memo awareness among NCHDs increased from 17% to 87.5% of NCHDs surveyed.
Conclusion This project found that existing pharmacy communication techniques were not effective. Alternative communication methods were piloted and demonstrated improved effectiveness. Implementation of these methods will ensure that up-to-date medication-related information is both highlighted to, and is easily accessible by, clinical staff.
References and/or acknowledgements Project Team. Nurse Practice Development.
No conflict of interest.