There's no lack of medical apps for clinicians to choose from these days. A 2018 analysis of the global mobile medical apps market indicated that there were more than 100,000 mobile apps in the mhealth section of various app distribution platforms. That figure is projected to double every two years thanks to the nearly 200 new mhealth apps added every day.
With so many apps available, which can truly make a difference in the delivery of safer, higher-quality care? One type deserving greater attention and consideration is a drug interactions app.
What's the value of a drug interactions app? Here are five ways it can help clinicians make sounder prescribing decisions.
1. Identification of Likely Interactions
When considering modifying a drug regimen, such as by prescribing a new medication, it is imperative for clinicians to determine potential safety risks before the patient starts the new regimen. A drug interactions app can quickly identify whether a patient's new combination of medications is apt to trigger a drug-drug interaction.
As a Journal of Medical Internet Research article notes, "Most potential drug-drug interactions (PDDIs) are preventable, but [they remain] a significant problem to patients and the healthcare system]. It has been observed that physicians are not always aware of clinically significant drug interactions and may underestimate the effects of PDDIs. … Drug-drug interactions have also been identified as a significant portion of the overall adverse drug events resulting in hospitalization among older adults."
When clinicians have a drug interactions app at their avail, they can better determine whether the medication regimen change under consideration is less likely to put patients in harm's way.
2. Fast Research
Clinicians are handling an increased workload. This typically translates to seeing more patients but less time to spend with them. That puts increased pressure on clinicians to make faster decisions for their patients without increasing safety risks.
A drug interactions app allows clinicians to quickly identify likely drug-drug interactions. All the clinician needs to do is enter the medication names, click a button, and assess the results. If the results raise red flags, the clinician can easily enter alternative medication information to determine whether there is a combination that can deliver the therapies the patient needs without the likelihood of an adverse drug reaction.
3. Analysis Anywhere
One of the best features of a drug interactions app — like any app — is the ability for clinicians to bring the functionality with them wherever they go. If clinicians want to research a potential drug-drug interaction, they do not need to be sitting at a desktop or laptop. As long as they have their smart device with the app installed (or ability to access the app view a web browser) and access to the Internet, they can conduct a real-time, drug-drug interaction analysis.
4. Keep Current
New prescription medications, over-the-counter drugs, and herbal supplements come onto the market essentially every day. In addition, new information on existing medications and supplements frequently becomes available. This information may include updates to what is currently known about likely drug-drug interactions.
A drug interactions app, managed and maintained effectively by its developer, can help ensure clinicians have access to the most current, accurate information about potential interactions concerning the medications they are considering prescribing.
5. Patient Education and Engagement
As a World Health Organization (WHO) report notes, "People using health services are increasingly asking for more responsive, open and transparent healthcare systems. They expect practitioners to engage them in the decision-making process…"
With patients becoming more informed about their healthcare options, they may come to their clinicians asking for and/or about specific medications. Rather than a clinician simply telling patients that they cannot prescribe such a medication due to adverse reaction risks, clinicians can visually show patients the potential dangers identified by an app.
Furthermore, a drug interaction app can help clinicians better educate patients about the rationale behind specific medication decisions, which may strengthen patient participation in their own care and communication between patient and provider. As the WHO report states, "Patient engagement may … promote mutual accountability and understanding between the patients and healthcare providers. … It has the potential to save lives through safety and quality improvements informed by patient experience."