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Northern Ireland’s GPs to get prescribing decision support with FDB OptimiseRx

Northern Ireland’s Health and Social Care Board signs contract with FDB to deploy its primary care medicines optimisation solution to practices across the region. Significant benefits are expected for busy staff along with better outcomes for patients

GPs and other primary care prescribers across Northern Ireland will for the first time have access to decision support technology at the point of prescribing, following a new agreement that will help health professionals enhance patient safety and improve medicine cost effectiveness.

FDB OptimiseRx is a medicines optimisation solution that works by enabling the presentation of messages to prescribers in their existing clinical IT system that contain important information relevant to a prescribing decision.

Messages displayed are tailored to a patient’s specific medical history, and can indicate when particular medicines might be potentially inappropriate or highlight drugs that might be more appropriate for a particular patient.

The messages can also show prescribers when medications might require additional safety measures, such as additional tests or supplementary drugs, and reference relevant national guidance and regional clinical best practice. They can also highlight more cost effective options when appropriate.

Adoption of the solution will provide GPs with easy access to information during patient consultations, reducing the need to spend time referring to external sources.

Northern Ireland’s Health and Social Care Board announced OptimiseRx will be deployed across the region’s GP practices in a phased approach and the first practices went live in December 2021. The decision to procure OptimiseRx was made by a project board with a wide range of stakeholders, including representatives from GP federations and the general practitioners committee.

Dr Brenda Bradley, Pharmacy Lead at the Health and Social Care Board, said: “GPs and other primary care professionals need to make important prescribing decisions every day in very pressurised environments. Having information from a prescribing decision support solution will provide them with timely advice around evidenced based, cost effective prescribing. It will help prescribers to increase the effectiveness, safety and quality of prescribing in primary care and ultimately help to improve outcomes for patients and reduce the risk of medicines related harm.”

The solution is expected to become a key enabler of Northern Ireland’s Pharmaceutical Clinical Effectiveness Programme, which aims to improve the quality and cost effectiveness of medicines management in health and social care services.

Darren Nichols, Managing Director at FDB (First Databank), said: “Busy professionals prescribing medicines just don’t have time to spend searching websites to find the latest guidance when making important decisions for patients. I am confident that the introduction of OptimiseRx will help to alleviate some of the pressures faced by GPs at what remains one of the most challenging times for healthcare. I look forward to seeing the impact of the solution in making it easier for professionals to make decisions with the information they need.”

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