“We are hoping to extend this innovative solution which enables improvements in patient safety and reduction in medicines waste using unit dose medicines and bar code assisted medicines administration, across the East Midlands and beyond”.
Graeme Hall, Associate Chief Pharmacist / Chief Pharmacy Information Officer, University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust

OverviewSteve Acres-pharmacy-05eUHL2017

University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust (UHL), IBSL (UK) Limited and Santa Lucia Pharma Apps SrL (SLPA), with support from EMAHSN and Loughborough University, have deployed a unit dose closed loop medicines management solution in four wards at UHL and undertaken an 18 month evaluation of the project (OptiMed-ID) in preparation for a Trust-wide rollout.

OptiMed-ID is an innovation unique within the UK, which uses robotic technology and logistics software to produce and deliver individual doses of medication within an acute hospital setting. It enables complete control of medicine prescribing, supply and administration, reducing medication errors and cutting waste.

Already deployed and delivering significant cost savings in 20 hospitals in Italy, the

independent evaluation work – completed December 2015 – has confirmed that the use of “optimisation of medicines with individual dosing” (OptiMed-ID) in an NHS acute hospital setting can deliver drugs cost savings in excess of 25%.   Deployed throughout four wards at UHL, this is the first time that an automated individual medicines dosing solution has been brought into operational use in the UK.

The evaluation report has informed UHL’s decision to extend the pilot whilst business case and procurement activities for the rollout of the innovation throughout the whole Trust are completed. The Trust-wide deployment at Leicester is expected to deliver savings to the NHS of around £4m per annum, as well as improving medicines adherence and reducing the risk of medicine errors.

Challenge/ problem identified

In 2015/16 the NHS spent over £7bn on medicines for hospitals.  The prescribing, management and administration of medicines within a hospital is a complex, costly and time consuming operation. Medicines errors are one of the major causes of serious patient safety events.  Innovations that can improve the process of hospital medicines management will therefore deliver significant financial, operational and clinical benefits.

UHL is one of the UK’s largest trusts. Many patients are frail and elderly or have co-morbidities requiring complex medicines regimes. This presents significant challenges for staff in getting the right medicines to the right patients at the right time.

The OptiMed-ID tool links electronic prescribing with unit dose packing robots and logistics software, the aim of which is to: revolutionise dispensing and tracking of medication by combining several internationally-proven technologies into a single solution.

Actions taken

  • Funding support to evaluate the project, with a full Health Economics report produced by Loughborough University
  • Market entry and inward investment assistance to IBSL
  • Business case and planning support for rollout across UHL and other Midlands acute hospitals
  • Full case study produced and available for interested trusts as well as a market opportunity report
  • UHL and EMAHSN organised a series of “open day” events where trusts from the UK have come to see the system being demonstrated. This includes trust pharmacist and financial teams from Birmingham, Warwick, Manchester and Sheffield
  • Supported the IBSL team at various events, e.g. NHS Expo
  • Assisting the trust and IBSL with NHS procurement arrangements

Impacts/ outcomesOptimed

  • 25% reduction in the consumption (and costs) of medicines
  • A 55% reduction in the number of items held in the ward stock cupboards
  • A 71% reduction in the value of medicines wastage
  • A reduction in missed doses due to medicine not available on wards from 10% to 1.2%
  • If the system is rolled out across all inpatient wards at UHL (currently 1790 beds and 14,000 staff across three sites) then the gross medicine related cost savings, based upon an average reduction of only 15%*, are £4.1m per year
  • 6 full time jobs created by IBSL (UK) Ltd
  • HSJ Value in Healthcare finalist 2017 Pharmacy And Medicines Optimisation https://value.hsj.co.uk/shortlist-2017

*Whilst the OptiMed-ID project at UHL has demonstrated savings of 25%, a more conservative figure of 15% has been assumed in the Trust wide business case to take account of anticipated reduced opportunities in wards with high usage of very high value medicines. Hospital wide deployments in Italy have already demonstrated average savings in excess of 15%.

“This is a first for the UK and as a Trust we are already incurring savings through the precise issuing of individual doses of medication rather than patient packs.”
Graeme Hall, Associate Chief Pharmacist / Chief Pharmacy Information Officer, University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust

Plans for the future

  • EMAHSN is supporting an expansion of OptiMed-ID within 6 additional wards at UHL, along with the preparations for a Trust-wide rollout
  • Plans being developed for a “hub and spoke” model to ensure cost effective  widespread deployment (see business case for more information)
  • Securing Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency and other regulatory approvals
  • Continuing to host other trust and VIP open day visits (e.g. Keith Ridge) to support wider adoption and spread throughout the East Midlands

Which national clinical or policy priorities does this example address?

Funding & Efficiency, Care & Quality

  • Medicines optimisation
  • SBRI and supporting SMEs
  • Adoption and diffusion of innovation and research

Start and end dates

2014 – present

Contact for help and advice

Project contact for further information
Chris Hart, EMAHSN Commercial Director
E: chris.hart@nottingham.ac.uk

Media contact for further information
Lucy Hose, Communications Manager
E: lucy.hose@nottingham.ac.uk

Find out more


Project Optimed ID – Leicester General Pharmaceutical Robot from Leicester’s Hospitals on Vimeo.


Project Optimed ID from Leicester’s Hospitals on Vimeo.