Kent Surrey Sussex AHSN releases study on GP prescribing decision support

Kent Surrey Sussex Academic Health Science Network (AHSN) has carried out an analysis on how using a prescribing decision support system has benefitted GPs and other primary care prescribers – with the use of tech in this area having the potential to support safety.

The study by the AHSN was based on a system called FDB OptimiseRx, which is currently used in practices across England.  The technology is being utilised by healthcare professionals with an aim to prevent adverse reactions to drugs in patients.

The research has revealed a series of benefits including a reduction in inpatient urinary tract infection cases – which could potentially save £575,000 over five years – and the prevention of more than 26,000 falls in elderly patients in a year. In the latter area, the review examined use of the prescribing technology to avoid providing anticholinergic drugs to elderly patients with dementia or a history of falls.

The system also offers offers prescribers the opportunity to consider an alternative treatment to using nitrofurantoin, an antibiotic commonly used to treat urinary tract infections, for patients with severe renal impairment recorded in their medical record. The medication may not be effective in these patients, leading to under-treatment and potential progression of infection.

Other potential gains found through the AHSN analysis included: reduced gastrointestinal bleeds, haemorrhage recurrence and outpatient visits; and improved quality of life for patients through not developing acute kidney injury (AKI), as the system flagged up patients who were at risk of developing the condition through the co-prescribing of certain drugs.

The analysis focused on a small sample of medicines and associated best practice alerts issued by the system to general practice prescribers, and showed a “consistent impact” in reducing preventable adverse drug reactions.

Darren Nichols, Managing Director at FDB, said: “The issue of reducing severe and avoidable medication-harm has been an important global challenge for several years, with ambitious targets by the World Health Organisation to secure action.

“There is a huge estimated cost to the NHS each year from adverse drug reactions but limited formal data and analysis. The research aims to begin to build a picture on what progress is being made overall and assess the benefit in primary care from prescribing support and guidance.”

He added: “In the case of reducing adverse drug reactions, the AHSN analysis has uncovered some significant benefits – ranging from reduced hospital admissions linked to prescribing behaviour around one medicine, to tens of thousands of falls prevented for elderly patients by supporting changes in prescribing decisions.

“This is based on an examination of only a very small sample of the many thousands of different types of messages presented to staff in primary care every day through the system – a snapshot of what prescribing tech could deliver for safer prescribing at a time when the UK and the world is striving to reduce medicine related harm.”