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Doing more with less – IT and automation are the way forward


The European Association of Hospital Pharmacists Annual Congress will feature sessions on information technology and automation that could help to change practice in the near future

Christine Clark


Welcome to issue number 43 of HPE. Having just taken up the reins of the journal my first duty is to thank my predecessor, Dr Ray Fitzpatrick, for his stewardship of the journal in recent years. Ray has written thoughtful and inspiring editorials that never failed to grasp readers’ attention and put into context the critical issues facing hospital pharmacists today. During his tenure as editor the journal has matured into the well-recognised and respected journal that it is today. I hope that I shall be equal to the task of taking it forward.

I am delighted to join the journal team at the time that coincides with the European Association of Hospital Pharmacists (EAHP) Annual Congress. This meeting is a highlight in the European hospital pharmacy calendar, and the “EAHP issue” of HPE provides an opportunity to showcase some of the topics in the busy congress programme. The 2009 congress will be held in Barcelona (25–27 March) with the main theme “IT and automation for the hospital pharmacist – tools for better care”. At the present moment it would be hard to find a better topic. As pharmacists everywhere are being asked to do more with fewer resources, it has never been more important to understand the possibilities offered by automation and astute application of information technology.

The EAHP Congress brings together hospital pharmacists from all over Europe with a programme that is rich and varied and designed to have something for hospital pharmacists at all levels. Seminars allow pharmacists to share experiences and ideas, industry-sponsored satellite meetings bring some of the newest developments in products and services, and plenary sessions provide the opportunity to hear some of the world’s finest speakers put key issues into perspective. In keeping with the congress theme, this year’s programme contains sessions on automated drug distribution, automated compounding, safe prescribing through e-learning and risk management with computerised physician order entry (CPOE, or electronic prescribing). It promises to be a very stimulating meeting.

In line with the EAHP congress theme, in this issue we include a review of automated pharmacy retrieval systems (dispensing robots) based on the experiences at Imperial College Healthcare Trust in the UK. Elsewhere we look at more sombre lessons from the UK, in the wake of the dreadful Harold Shipman affair. The international implications for pharmacy governance are considered, particularly with regard to tracking of narcotics in hospitals – here, automation offers a route to avoid the errors and abuses seen in the past.

And what next for HPE? Healthcare systems and the pharmaceutical industry are currently undergoing huge changes to meet the needs of ageing populations and changing public expectations. New healthcare technologies will emerge in this climate and present challenges and opportunities for hospital pharmacists. We will continue to seek out and provide a platform for publication of cutting-edge developments in pharmacy and therapeutics.

Publisher’s note:
We are delighted to welcome Dr Christine Clark onboard as the new editor. Christine was appointed as the first teacher/practitioner in clinical pharmacy in the UK. She was a founder member of the United Kingdom Clinical Pharmacy Association (UKCPA) and its chair from 1985 until 1988. She is the author of over 40 papers on clinical pharmacy and the winner of several awards for distinguished practice in pharmacy. Previously she was Research Fellow in Clinical Therapeutics at Bradford University. Currently she works as a medical writer and consultant. We take this opportunity to heartily thank outgoing editor Dr Ray Fitzpatrick for his expert and timely contributions to the journal during his tenure. We are delighted to say that he has accepted a position on the Editorial Advisory Board, so we shall continue to benefit from his expertise and insight.

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