How can we tackle the over-prescribing problem?


How can we tackle the over-prescribing problem?

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

In Public Health England’s prescribed medicines review, it was reported that long-term prescriptions have increased, meaning people are relying on medicines for longer, with little education on the risks of long-term usage, or information on alternative treatments such as talking therapies. PHE made a series of recommendations to tackle this problem, with the overall goal to ensure the healthcare system builds awareness and enhanced decision-making for better patient treatment and support.

The report summarised “these recommendations are just the beginning. All parts of the healthcare system and the general population will need to engage with this complex problem and work together to find solutions. The local strategic leadership of CCGs, sustainability and transformation partnerships and integrated care systems will be vital.”

Helen McKnight

In this article, Helen McKnight, Pharmacy lead at Evergreen Life, discusses the ways Evergreen Life can help CCGs and heads of Public Health tackle these challenges, now and in the future. 

Improving information for patients and carers

Access to information on prescribed medicines for both people and health professionals is key to improving decision making. The Evergreen Life app already provides people with this information, being the only app connected to all three major GP systems in England. Over 15,000 prescriptions are ordered through the app each week. People can record their usage in their medicines diary and can also share their record with whomever they choose, such as a carer or health professional. 

So, there’s already a huge opportunity for both people and health professionals to use the information already out there at a patient’s fingertips, to encourage more informed discussions and decision making when it comes to medications. 

Greater transparency and availability of data on drugs that cause dependancy or withdrawal

The PHE review highlighted that around half of people on repeat prescriptions are receiving a prescription for 12 months or longer. The conclusions drawn from patients’ experiences were mainly around the lack of guidance on how long-term drug usage could affect their overall wellbeing, and the overall risks associated with both usage and withdrawal of the medication they were using. 

From a population health perspective, we engage with people to take a more active part in monitoring their health and wellbeing, from the medications they’re on to the health and fitness measurements they want to track. Very soon our app users will be able to get personalised ‘nudges’ about their health. We’re engaging with the healthcare system to also see how we can deliver these nudges to increase awareness around the information that people enter about themselves, such as their prescribed medications. 

As we start to learn what our users are telling us about what works for them, we’re also able to work with CCGs to look at these anonymised responses from a population perspective, helping them to inform and engage with their local population. So, whether that’s information about alternative treatments or a gentle reminder to talk to their GP about their use of medication, both patients and health professionals stand to gain healthier perspectives on medications.

Further research on prevention and treatment 

As part of our digital coach model, one of our aims at Evergreen Life is to inform future research to improve health and wellbeing for all. Information and guidance within the Evergreen Life app is fully researched and referenced by our clinical content team. Any feedback from users on implementing any changes in their health and wellbeing can be analysed to see the impact. 

Working in partnership with CCGs to tackle these challenges

As we can see, there are numerous opportunities already available for CCGs to engage with people through the Evergreen Life app around their medications usage and record. We can help you actively engage with your population and identify areas using data that can reduce wastage, improve safety and medication adherence. Engaging and educating people and having access to population health data can also help reduce expenditure in medicines from a more informed place.

If we engage with people to help them proactively monitor their own health and discuss with their health advisor, we can tackle the over-prescribing problem together and promote a more proactive approach to population health and wellbeing.

For more information about how Evergreen Life can help your CCG tackle the over-prescribing problem, feel free to get in touch here.

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