Docs can prevent adverse drug reactions by looking up info on mobile phones

A new study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Directors Association, has found that adverse drug events and interactions can be prevented by doctors who use their mobile devices to look up medication information when making prescriptions for patients in nursing homes.

In a survey of more than 550 nursing home physicians, almost 90 percent said they avoided at least one potentially harmful drug reaction in the previous month by using their mobile devices to look up prescription drug information, as reported in a HealthDay article.

"To our knowledge, this is the first large study of the use of drug reference software on mobile devices in the nursing home setting," said lead investigator Steven Handler, M.D., an assistant professor of biomedical informatics, geriatric medicine and clinical and translational sciences at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, in a university announcement.

The study revealed that 42 percent of participants used a mobile device to check drug information, and greater use was more common amongst those who had been in practice for less than 15 years. Of the device users, almost all (98 percent) said they used drug reference software daily in the previous four weeks, and three-quarters reported an average of three or more lookups daily. In addition, researchers also found that 88 percent of these doctors said using their mobile device to look up drug information had prevented at least one adverse drug reaction in the past four weeks.

"Those who did look up medication information on their mobile devices clearly felt that this was helpful and improved medication safety," said Handler. "However, we found that fewer than half of the nursing home doctors were doing this, which suggests that there is a lot of potential to reduce adverse event rates further if more of them took advantage of these tools."

In related news, in a study seniors improved their medication adherence with cell phone text reminders. The Front Porch Center for Innovation and Wellbeing, one of Southern California's largest not-for-profit providers of retirement living communities, teamed with New Jersey-based CareSpeak Communications, a mobile communications technology solutions provider, to pilot CareSpeak's mobile health manager technology. 

The project featured customized texting services for medication alerts, diabetes and other chronic disease medication reminders, and medication tracking programs for seniors at Front Porch communities and neighboring senior centers. Of those seniors who participated in the study, 66 percent found that the CareSpeak system made it easier for them to keep track of their medications.

To learn more:
- read the HealthDay article
- read the Journal of American Medical Directors Association study
- read the University of Pittsburgh announcement