Pharmacists have limited awareness of the capabilities of their pharmacy information systems

Research Activities, March 2012, No. 379

Clinical decision support (CDS) tools have been part of pharmacy information systems for several decades. Such tools help pharmacists identify drug-drug interactions (DDIs) and patient allergies. While the majority of pharmacists are aware of these functions, fewer are aware of advanced-level functions of pharmacy information systems, such as laboratory drug-monitoring recommendations and pediatric dosing, reveals a new study.

Participating in the study were 61 pharmacists from a variety of practice settings in Arizona. Each was interviewed about their pharmacy information system features and asked to provide details about its CDS capabilities. The majority of pharmacists (60.6 percent) worked at community pharmacies, while another 23 percent were employed at inpatient hospital pharmacies. A total of 24 different software systems were used, whether off-the-shelf or custom-made.

Sixty percent of the pharmacists knew that their DDI systems included recommendations for managing drug interactions. However, 40 percent did not know how often the DDI software was updated, with half not knowing the date of the most recent update. Two-thirds of pharmacists interviewed said their system allowed for the addition of medications from other pharmacies as well as over-the-counter products to a patient's profile. In addition, 40 percent said that some drugs entered into the system were not included in the electronic DDI checking. Overall, the majority of pharmacists were aware of drug-disease, drug-age precautions, and inappropriate dosage alerts. However, there was less awareness of advanced-level CDS functions, such as laboratory drug monitoring recommendations (34 percent) and pediatric dosing support (39 percent).

The researchers suggest that pharmacists could benefit from additional training on decision support features in order to capitalize fully on the capabilities of these systems. Their study was supported in part 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, R.Ph., Ph.D., and others in Research in Social and Administrative Pharmacy [Epub ahead of print], 2011.

Page last reviewed March 2012
Internet Citation: Pharmacists have limited awareness of the capabilities of their pharmacy information systems: Research Activities, March 2012, No. 379. March 2012. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD.