Electronic decision support tools help overcome problems related to polypharmacy

Polypharmacy is very common amongst elderly and multimorbid patients in general practice. There is evidence that polypharmacy is associated with increased harmful event rates, hospitalizations, and even untimely death. GPs may feel overwhelmed by the polypharmacy of their patients, being unable to make relevant decisions due to lack of data, knowledge and time.

In order to seek out solutions to this challenging topic, an international consortium of researchers with expertise in evidence-based medicine, clinical decision support, general practice and pharmacotherapy, developed the “PRIMA-eDS” tool, a comprehensive electronic decision support tool to support GPs in treating their older patients with polypharmacy.

The PRIMA-eDS* tool consists of two components: a data entry form to fill in timely patient data and a comprehensive medication review to support in reducing polypharmacy. The tool was evaluated in a large European randomized controlled trial and the results are published in BMJ.

The results suggest that the use of the PRIMA-eDS tool enabled GPs to reduce the number of drugs the patient was taking without causing harm. Moreover, reducing polypharmacy lowered the chance of hospital admission and death. Integrating the tool into an EHR would be beneficial as it would save time and increase the use of the tool.


* (Polypharmacy: Reduction of Inappropriate Medication and Adverse drug events in an older population by electronic Decision Support)

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Use of an electronic decision support tool to reduce polypharmacy in elderly people with chronic diseases