August 30, 2021

Omnicell welcomes WHO Global Patient Safety Plan 2021-2030

Omnicell International General Manager and Vice President, Sara Dalmasso welcomes the recently published World Health Organisation (WHO) Global Safety Action Plan 2021-2030, Towards Eliminating Avoidable Harm in Health Care.

As a global leader in the field of healthcare automation and supply automated technology, Omnicell shares the WHO goal to ‘achieve the maximum possible reduction in avoidable harm due to unsafe health care globally’ and is pleased to see an acknowledgement of how technology can help achieve this in the report.

At present, unsafe medication errors and practices are one of the main causes of avoidable harm in health care worldwide. The report estimates that the global cost associated with medication errors is a staggering $42bn annually, which represents almost 1% of global health expenditure. The report states that ‘large numbers of patient safety incidents occur because of errors in the prescribing, ordering, storage, dispensing, preparation and administration of medicines, or failure to monitor processes related to and use of medicines.’

In Australia, previous estimates indicate between 2% and 3% of all Australian hospital admissions are medication-related. This suggests at least 230,000 admissions annually in this country are caused by patients taking too much or too little of a medicine, or taking the wrong medicine – with an estimated annual cost of at least $1.2 billion. [1]

It is therefore essential that global players in the healthcare landscape work collaboratively to fulfil the aims of this new report and significantly increase levels of patient safety.

Aims of the report

Patient harm due to unsafe care is one of the leading causes worldwide of death and disability and is one of the largest public health challenges we are facing globally. It is therefore vital to have a sound strategy to combat avoidable patient harm. Like WHO, Omnicell understand that the benefits of being able to access good health services can be undermined by unsafe care.  As well as physical harm, it can have a psychological impact on   patients, their families and overburdened healthcare professionals too.

In light of this, the WHO report lays out seven strategic objectives as a framework for action over the next nine years and calls on governments, stakeholders, its own secretariat and healthcare facilities to step up as key delivery partners of the strategy. Omnicell is already taking many steps to secure the vision of the WHO report:

to create ‘a world in which no-one is harmed in health care, and every patient receives safe and respectful care, every time, everywhere.’

Omnicell is helping providers across the continuum of care realise the potential of the Autonomous Pharmacy vision, by replacing error-prone manual processes with intelligent technology and automated workflows.

Improving Patient Safety and Quality of Care

A highly significant strategic objective laid out in the WHO report is ‘information, research and risk management’, in which one of the five core goals is ‘digital technology for patient safety.’

Omnicell’s vision is to deliver the most compelling automation and services to accelerate pharmacy perfection. Our solutions support healthcare providers to progress on the path to the Autonomous Pharmacy – an industry vision for zero-error medication management.

We are passionate about enhancing standards of patient care through technology and optimised workflows so that healthcare professionals are able to practice at the top of their licence and spend more time on face-to-face patient care rather than administrative and logistical tasks., This is in line with the vision laid out in the report which states that ‘human-centred technology can make an enormous contribution to patient safety:

A human factors approach should be applied to the design and evaluation of standards, hardware and software applications.’

Our team of industry experts also spend time onsite to observe current processes in order to understand what solution and workflows are needed to help staff to drive efficiencies and improve patient safety. After installation, the team ensures that clinical staff receive in-depth training on all aspects of the technology to drive timely adoption of the solutions. Ongoing customer success support is also available so solutions can continue to be optimised with input from industry experts.

As a stakeholder in patient safety, Omnicell is already making huge progress in fulfilling the demands required of them in this report including:  

  • ‘Develop existing and new digital technologies to enhance the identification and analysis of risk, avoidable harm and patient safety incidents.
  • Connect technology innovators to health system and clinical leaders to explore new, more effective ways to identify risk and potential harm and discover new routes to improve patient safety with active involvement of industry and the private sector
  • Promote and fund innovative use of digital technology for patient safety improvement.’

However, we believe collaboration with the other key development partners is essential to introduce digital technology to more healthcare settings worldwide. The WHO is calling on national governments to ‘develop a national strategy… to bring the benefits of digitisation’ to improve healthcare safety, as well as to ‘promote and support digitisation of health care processes such as medical records, electronic prescribing and clinical decision support systems with due consideration to interoperability of digital solutions.’ Omnicell is helping to increase patient safety levels, reduce errors, drive efficiency and ease staff burdens at many health settings across the globe - from hospitals to care homes to retail pharmacies. However, until such solutions become a standard of care in many countries, there are many more hospitals and pharmacies that could benefit from the installation of technology to reduce medication errors. As such, Omnicell welcomes any additional government support to help make this a reality. The ongoing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic has helped highlight that it has never been more important to support our healthcare systems, staff and patients.

Tools and strategies for quality improvement and patient safety

Another key strategic objective outlined in the report is ‘safety of clinical processes’, because at present a large number of patient safety incidents occurring in health settings across the globe are caused by flaws in the design or operation of clinical processes. For instance, this could manifest in miscommunication between different sections of the same health care system, leading to a negative consequence for patients and/or staff.

Connected technology and intelligence can help to resolve some of these challenges. Integration of systems simplifies the communication and delivery of clinical information across a healthcare setting. This allows for improved collaboration and clinical workflows, crucial time savings and financial savings, together with a reduction in errors, all with the aim of driving better patient outcomes.

Furthermore, combining the advanced analytics from these integrated smart technologies means that constant analysis of workflow efficiency can take place often leading to recommended workflow changes to further improve and enhance patient outcomes.

The WHO’s new patient safety plan acknowledges the importance of improving clinical processes and therefore patient safety. It states that healthcare settings should ‘raise awareness about medication risks and implement safety practices in every clinical service within the organisation.’  The implementation of Omnicell technology at many health care sites worldwide has already demonstrated that medication management technology significantly reduces medication errors by improving the safety of clinical processes.

The future of patient safety in healthcare

The seven strategic objectives recommended by Global Patient Safety Action Plan 2021-2030 could go a long way to achieving the goal of eliminating unsafe patient care, and Omnicell is pleased to see an acknowledgement of how technology can significantly improve patient safety, particularly in the information, research and risk management objective. The report is a great starting point for recognising that technology can play a part in supporting the patient safety plan, but there’s an even greater opportunity. Omnicell looks forward to working collaboratively with other key development partners to realise a world in which every patient receives safe, respectful care and to fulfil all the objectives of the WHO report.


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