Role of technology in optimising medication

Gary Mooney discusses the role of technology in driving safety improvements in medication management, as well as the personalisation of therapies through pharmacogenomics.

The prescribing of medications has always presented inherent risks, in part due to the limitations of paper-based systems, requiring handwritten instructions to be communicated in a precise and timely manner. This was perfectly described by Mark Twain when he noted in 1894, "He wrote in a doctor's hand, which from the beginning of time has been so disastrous to the pharmacist and so profitable to the undertaker".

The ever-evolving sophistication of drug therapies to treat a broader range of conditions and disease has further exacerbated the potential risks associated with the prescribing of medications. In addition, ageing populations with multiple co-morbidities and numerous concomitant medications present an increased risk profile. For acute care, where most adverse medication events take place, increased patient volumes with reduced resource capacity adds further dimensions for medication errors to occur.

While digital medication management solutions have been commonplace in many healthcare services, such as pharmacy and GP practice, for decades, ePrescribing and medication administration (ePMA) solutions have only realistically matured over the last decade. As such they have now reached a position where the complexities of modern acute and tertiary care services can be comprehensively, safely, and efficiently accommodated as an integral element of broader clinical workflows and the electronic patient record.

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