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Dispensing knowledge

Dec 01, 2014 |
Clifford Lo

Clifford Lo

MHA Grad Clifford Lo evaluates the impact of Automated Dispensing Devices

Have you ever wondered what becomes of the MHA final research project? Then pick up the Canadian Journal of Hospital Pharmacy and read the recent publication by 2013 grad Clifford Lo.

For his project, Clifford focused on a new technology that automates the stages of drug distribution in hospitals, including ordering, dispensing, delivery, and administration of medications. “These Decentralized Automated Dispensing Devices or ADDs have been implemented in Canadian hospitals as a way to reduce medication errors and save costs. However the system itself is very expensive,” Clifford explains. “I wanted to know if they were actually having their intended effect, in a way that’s cost-effective.”

Clifford first reviewed the literature and found little evidence supporting claims that these devices improved patient safety or reduced costs in Canadian hospitals. He then went into the field to investigate the use of ADDs in three hospitals in British Columbia, applying a method called timing analysis. With significant resources already invested into these devices, Clifford’s goal was to determine their optimal use by comparing medication error rates, nurse’s preferences, nurse’s practice patterns and, finally, efficiency.

1051615057_68dba99a17_z“Whether to invest in automated dispensing devices is just one example of the many difficult choices a health care leader needs to make,” Clifford says. “The MHA program gave me the training in how to appraise the evidence for these devices and understand the economic implications of these types of decisions. Ultimately, I gained the skill set to strategically decide which initiatives to invest time and resources in, then how to successfully implement and evaluate them. UBC’s MHA creates the right type of health care leader; one who ensures value for the money, while never forgetting to keep patients at the centre of attention.”

Clifford is just one of the many MHA students who have brought the results of their final project to the attention of real-life decision-makers.