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Information about the programme

Valo (“Light”, The National Medication Safety Programme of Community Pharmacies in Finland) is a programme launched by the Association of Finnish Pharmacies together with the Finnish Centre for Client and Patient Safety. This research-based programme aims to improve the safety and appropriateness of the outpatient medication use process for clients and patients.

The goal is that by the end of 2026, outpatient medication safety and risk management will be carried out and developed in regionally coordinated collaboration across organisational boundaries.

Valo programme intends to develop the medication safety expertise of community pharmacy professionals. It also aims at strengthening and unifying the medication safety work carried out by community pharmacies, making sure it has a solid base on positive safety culture.

Valo also supports the implementation of the Client and Patient Safety Strategy (2022-2026) by Finland’s Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, where the perspectives of outpatient medication safety and the new health and social services counties are considered.

The action plan of Valo programmes’ first two-year period (2021-2022) comprises of four parallel sub-projects (figure 1). The plan also includes communication and project management.

Figure 1. The sub-projects of the Valo programme (2021 – 2022)

1. Implementing the Patient Safety Incident Reporting System (HaiPro) into Community Pharmacies

The HaiPro system has been widely used in health and social care services in Finland and was implemented into community pharmacies for in-house reporting during autumn 2021. The implementation was preceded by a modification of the system to better adapt to the needs of the community pharmacies’ operational environment.

The HaiPro system guides community pharmacies to observe medication safety and operational processes from a wider perspective. In addition to dispensing errors, community pharmacies also monitor errors related to self-care, automated dose-dispensing, and e-pharmacy services, for example.

During spring 2022 the patient safety incident reporting between community pharmacies and health and social care units was first piloted in two regions in Finland (Hämeenlinna and Vaasa). After the successful pilot phase, patient safety incident reporting between community pharmacies and health social care units will be enabled in other reagions as well by the end of 2024.

In outpatient care the medication use process always comprises of multiple actors. Inter-organisational HaiPro reporting enables gathering data about the safety and smoothness of the entire outpatient medication use process. Inter-organisational risk management regarding medication use can, for example, reveal unexpected risks in-between organisations that, in addition to compromising patient safety, can also weaken the efficiency of the health and social care system.

2. Developing Medication Safety Culture and – Expertise in Community Pharmacies

The medication safety culture and – expertise in community pharmacies is being developed to answer the needs of the health and social care system and to reach the goals of the national Client and Patient Safety Strategy. Central measures for achieving these objectives are appointing medication safety pharmacists to every community pharmacy in Finland and the continuous development of this position, as well as strengthening the community pharmacies’ medication safety expertise through systematic continuing education modules.

The pharmacy owners together with pharmacy management and medication safety pharmacists play key roles when implementing safety culture based on continuous learning into community pharmacies. The continuing education module is mainly carried out online in cooperation with the Pharmaceutical Learning Centre (“Farmasian Oppimiskeskus”).

3. Developing Cooperation and Coordination in Community Pharmacies and Regionally

Sufficient cooperation and coordination will ensure that learning from others takes place and that effective development measures are carried out. When it comes to risk management, it is vital that risks can be identified before they actualise in one’s own department.

The peer development process of community pharmacies utilises the network of medication safety pharmacists and the nationally accumulative HaiPro data from community pharmacies. Distributing the information from the HaiPro data to community pharmacies enables utilising information about the risks and developing proactive processes in each community pharmacy. The larger data can help identify risks in the medication use process in real time that would otherwise remain unidentifiable in the data of a single community pharmacy. The data also shows measures that community pharmacies have taken to minimise and avoid risks.

4. Research

The National Medication Safety Programme of Community Pharmacies in Finland (Valo, “Light”) is driven by scientific research. A research strategy (2023-2026) was drafted in cooperation with the University of Helsinki. “>The reseach strategy is available in finnish here >

The research strategy, published in autumn 2023, outlines the most central upcoming research needs regarding client and patient medication safety in outpatient care. The aim is to improve medication safety both in community pharmacies as well as in collaboration of community pharmacies and health and social services system in Finland.

The research cooperation with the University of Helsinki will be ongoing throughout the entire programme. This approach enables generating research data in a coordinated and thorough manner continuously based on the research strategy while it also makes it possible to assess the effectiveness of the programme’s actions.

The knowledge gained from the research will be utilised in recognising, choosing, and prioritising new measures for the programme. The research results will also be applied to developing medication safety practices, and to support management and decision-making both in community pharmacies as well as other areas of health and social care services.


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