Medicines optimisation – ensuring the right patient gets the right drug for them, at the best possible value – is a key priority in modern healthcare, but it is not without its challenges. The wealth of modern prescribing options, the growth in patients on multiple medications, and the increasing number of generics can all make for a highly complex picture.

Many organisations are now exploring how clinical decision support at the time of prescribing might address these complexities. At the global digital exemplar Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, for instance, the rollout of an electronic health record included integrated medication clinical decision support. Clinicians are provided with comprehensive medicine information at the point of care, and medication errors have fallen as a result.

Such systems can be valuable in the community too. Heywood, Middleton and Rochdale CCG is using patient-specific prescribing support, centred on the patient’s unique medical record. It assists the appropriate use of medicines, as well as the dissemination of local prescribing information and recommendations on medicines choice that has been developed locally.

With a UK study estimating that more than 230 million medications errors take place each year in the NHS – and with an average of 712 deaths annually being linked to adverse drug reactions – the potential for such systems is clear.

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