Drug interaction decision support software has limitations and pharmacists' knowledge of support features is limited
Clinical decision support features of drug information software include drug-drug interaction (DDI), drug-allergy checking, and other advanced features to guide safe medication use. However, a new survey of 61 pharmacists shows that pharmacists have only limited awareness of the many decision support features available in their systems. Of the 61 pharmacists surveyed by University of Arizona researchers, 60 percent reported that their DDI decision support systems included recommendations for managing drug interactions. Two-thirds of respondents reported that their pharmacy's system permitted the addition of medications from other pharmacies and/or over-the-counter products to a patient's profile. Approximately 40 percent of the pharmacists reported that some drugs entered into the pharmacy computer system were not included in the electronic DDI checking.
Most pharmacists indicated the presence of other decision support features, such as drug-disease precautions (78 percent), drug-age precautions (67 percent), and appropriate dosage alerts (79 percent). Forty percent of pharmacists did not know how often their software was updated. The 61 pharmacists interviewed were employed at community pharmacies, inpatient hospital pharmacies, and "other" pharmacies, including 2 infusion pharmacies, 1 long-term care pharmacy, and 3 Indian Health Service locations. They reported using a total of 24 different software vendors for their information systems. It was unclear, however, whether pharmacists' limited awareness of their systems was a function of pharmacist training and knowledge or whether there are actual deficiencies associated with various pharmacy information systems.
The study was supported by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (HS19220).
See "Pharmacists' awareness of clinical decision support in pharmacy information systems: An exploratory evaluation," by Lisa E. Hines, Pharm.D., Kim R. Saverno, R.Ph., B.S. Pharm., Terri L. Warholak, Ph.D., and others in Research in Social and Administrative Pharmacy 7, pp. 359-368, 2011.