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Digital Solutions for Medication Management

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A collaborative research initiative at the University of Queensland, in partnership with Brisbane’s Princess Alexandra Hospital (PAH), aims to mitigate the risks associated with medication for both inpatients and those transitioning from hospital to their homes.

Dr Nazanin Ghahreman-Falconer, an expert from UQ’s School of Pharmacy, is spearheading this innovative project, leveraging digital hospital technologies to enhance medication management for inpatients and reduce rehospitalisation rates attributable to medication-related harm.

The pressing health challenge of rehospitalisation has become a focal point of this endeavour, particularly in Queensland, where as many as 25% of adult patients are readmitted within a mere 28 days after their initial discharge.

The vulnerability that patients face post-hospitalisation, combined with potential confusion surrounding their medications, poses substantial risks, including falls, bleeding, and rehospitalisation. A notable statistic underscores the gravity of the situation: approximately 90% of patients experience alterations in their medication regimens while in the hospital, which can lead to complications if not communicated clearly to the patients and their healthcare providers.

Beyond the immediate adverse consequences for patients, rehospitalisation places a significant burden on the healthcare system. Thus, the overarching goal of this research collaboration is to devise effective solutions to mitigate this challenge.

Dr Ghahreman-Falconer, in conjunction with Associate Professor Michael Barras from PAH, is actively engaged in the RECARD Study. This study employs predictive modelling to proactively prevent rehospitalisation following a heart attack. At its core, the RECARD Study involves the development of digital tools aimed at aiding clinicians in identifying cardiac patients who are at the highest risk of being readmitted due to medication-related harm.

The research is characterised by its emphasis on identifying and supporting the most vulnerable patients, including those from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. The initial phase of the project entails extensive consultation with community stakeholders to construct a predictive model for identifying individuals at risk of rehospitalization. Simultaneously, a toolkit is being developed to facilitate tailored medication management and support during the critical period of patient discharge.

Another noteworthy project in collaboration with PAH harnesses the power of hospital data and artificial intelligence (AI) to pinpoint patients susceptible to medication-related harm, allowing for early and targeted interventions during their hospital stay.

Dr Ghahreman-Falconer highlighted the previous research accomplishment of creating a model for dosing high-risk medications, such as heparin, a commonly used anticoagulant. Accurate dosing of heparin is notoriously challenging but critical for patient safety.

Building on this prior success, the team is currently developing an app that will be integrated into the hospital’s electronic systems. This app aims to provide guidance to doctors when prescribing intravenous heparin, enhancing precision and safety in medication management.

The incorporation of such innovative digital tools promises to empower clinicians to work more efficiently, ensuring timely and targeted care for those who need it most. These advancements are poised to yield better and safer health outcomes for patients across the healthcare spectrum.

Dr Ghahreman-Falconer’s remarkable contributions to this collaborative research endeavour have earned recognition in UQ’s prestigious 2023 Research and Innovation Week awards. This recognition underscores the significance and potential impact of this work in revolutionising medication management practices, reducing rehospitalisation rates, and improving overall patient well-being. The fusion of cutting-edge technology and healthcare expertise exemplified in this research holds promise for transforming healthcare delivery and patient outcomes, not only in Queensland but potentially on a broader scale as well.

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