eMedication – improving medication management using information technology

University dissertation from Kalmar : Linnaeus University Press

Abstract: Medication is an essential part of health care and enables the prevention andtreatment of many conditions. However, medication errors and drug-relatedproblems (DRP) are frequent and cause suffering for patients and substantial costsfor society. eMedication, defined as information technology (IT) in themedication management process, has the potential to increase quality, efficiencyand safety but can also cause new problems and risks.In this thesis, we have studied the employment of IT in different steps of themedication management process with a focus on the user's perspective. Sweden isone of the leading countries when it comes to ePrescribing, i.e. prescriptionstransferred and stored electronically. We found that ePrescribing is well acceptedand appreciated by pharmacists (Study I) and patients (Study II), but that therewas a need for improvement in several aspects. When the pharmacy market inSweden was re-regulated, four new dispensing systems were developed andimplemented. Soon after the implementation, we found weaknesses related toreliability, functionality, and usability, which could affect patient safety (StudyIII). In the last decade, several county councils in Sweden have implementedshared medication lists within the respective region. We found that physiciansperceived that a regionally shared medication list generally was more complete butoften not accurate (Study IV). Electronic expert support (EES) is a decisionsupport system which analyses patients´ electronically-stored prescriptions in orderto detect potential DRP, i.e. drug-drug interactions, therapy duplication, highdose, and inappropriate drugs for geriatric or pediatric patients. We found thatEES detected potential DRP in most patients with multi-dose drug dispensing inSweden (Study V), and that the majority of alerts were regarded as clinicallyrelevant (Study VI).For an improved eMedication, we need a holistic approach that combinestechnology, users, and organization in implementation and evaluation. The thesissuggests a need for improved sharing of information and support for decisionmaking, coordination, and education, as well as clarification of responsibilitiesamong involved actors in order to employ appropriate IT. We suggestcollaborative strategic work and that the relevant authorities establish guidelinesand requirements for IT in the medication management process.