Minimizing adverse drug events, prevent the preventable
ActionADE: platform to track medication history, recommend and
order drugs and treatments
CLIENT: ACTIONADE RESEARCH TEAM, UBC & SFU CLINICAL RESEARCH
INITIATIVE, VANCOUVER COASTAL HEALTH
Each year, more than 2 million patients visit Emergency Departments all across Canada due to severe, unintended reactions of medication use, known as adverse drug events (ADEs). They are one of the top causes of death in North America. Yet, it is estimated that 95% of ADEs are not even reported.
Many of these events could have been prevented. Researchers estimate that 30% of documented ADEs are repeat events. Currently each individual hospital, where an event has been reported, keeps their own records. This information is not shared among medical professionals between different hospitals.
Thus, a physician’s knowledge of a patient’s medication history becomes limited. Without seeing the full picture, they are restricted from making the best possible diagnosis and treatment for their patient. Lack of such knowledge also allows threats of human error to increase. Errors can occur in complexity of care, prescribing, dispensing and/or medication use.
This is where ActionADE comes in. ActionADE is a platform where ADE related information is easily accessible to medical professionals for them to gain the necessary knowledge to make the most fitting decisions.
It has two goals: to share data and to save time with minimal effort.
1. It has to be simple and efficient. ActionADE has to be easy to use and the documenting process has to be quick.
2. Secure medical information has to be available. ActionADE needs to be a database where medication history and reports are accessible.
Patients may be suffering or under stress, and can be confused when admitted. Family members may be worried and emotional, trying to help and understand the situation. This increases complexity when extracting information. Medical professionals have to listen, digest the information, and make critical judgements on the spot.
OUR PROCESS AND SOLUTION
1. Simplify. Simplify. Simplify.
Inputting medical history can be extremely complex and time consuming. Medical professionals are often faced with many challenges demanding their attention simultaneously—even more so, for Emergency Department responders, where unexpected situations jump out one after the other. Medical professionals not only have to communicate with patients and their families, but also screen the information provided by them.
ActionADE makes data entry easier. We wanted to minimize the cognitive load on the physicians. We reorganized the entry fields—they would be presented to the users in a hierarchical fashion and only when needed. Our goal is to create a narrative where physicians can easily follow and walk patients through to draw out the important information they need. Thus, leaving emergency responders’ time and effort available for more critical issues demanding their attention.
2. Know thy enemy.
To tackle an ADE, we have to first understand what the ADE is and what it’s cause and impacts are. Unexpected events happen everyday and patients don’t always get to visit their hospital of choice. A doctor attending a new patient needs to know the same information as the patient’s primary practitioner.
As in the words of Sun Tzu in The Art of War, “If you know your enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles.”
Tackling every disease is a battle. Doctors and patients team up to fight against their mutual opponent, the patient’s disease, or in this case, adverse drug reactions. ActionADE is their defence, prepping them the necessary knowledge doctors need to battle for their patients. With these, the experts can make the most fitting decisions — what drugs to prescribe, what treatment to order, etc.
Repeat ADEs are preventable. They are not unknown. In fact, we already know about them. We are simply unaware because we haven’t properly shared the information, restraining us from taking the appropriate measurements.
In health care and medicine, though we continue to learn and mature in our techniques, there are still a lot of unknowns yet to be discovered and conquered. Medical professionals work hard towards understanding and battling these unknowns every day. These are the important things demanding their attention and effort. Our job is to make their journeys easier and help them focus on the things that matter more. Only when we achieve this, can patients receive the best care and treatment.
Corrine Hohl, FRCPC, CCFP, MHSc, MDCM｜Project co-lead
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