The effective use of clinical medication reviews leads to fewer complaints, fewer pills, and a higher quality of life, and is highly likely to result in cost savings as well. PhD candidate Sanne Verdoorn reached that conclusion in her dissertation ‘Clinical medication review: one step beyond’, which she will defend on 13 March.
During a clinical medication review, the pharmacist and patient evaluate whether the prescribed medication is actually necessary, if other medication is needed, or if the patient has experienced any side effects or problems using the medication. The pharmacist and the patient’s doctor then draw up a treatment plan to solve any existing medication-related problems, and to prevent such problems from occurring. Verdoorn’s research has shown that elderly patients participating in such a medication review reported a higher quality of life and fewer health complaints, while also reducing their medication use. She also discovered that there is a 90% chance that a medication review can help reduce costs.
The Netherlands is aging, and elderly people are using more and more medication to treat chronic illnesses. Clinical medication reviews are also becoming more common. In her research, Verdoorn found that 90% of the patients surveyed were able to draw up a personal goal together with their pharmacist, such as experiencing less pain, using fewer pills, or increasing their mobility. More than half of the patients also reported tangible progress towards achieving their goals. However, the study also found that less than half of the elderly patients’ medication problems could be identified in the pharmacy using the current checklists and software, because they are less focused on elderly medication users.
Verdoorn conducted a randomised clinical study of 629 elderly patients at 35 different pharmacies. Since the computer software used to track the most important problems proved not to be specific enough, she chose to utilise a personal approach. One innovative aspect of her study was the measurement of personal goals, preferences, and health complaints. Verdoorn used a special measurement scale to evaluate the patients’ success at achieving their personal goals, such as reducing pain or other complaints and taking fewer pills.