Polypharmacy is a term usually applied to a person that takes five or more medications. Albeit other definitions are also used, patients receiving polypharmacy always present some common traits: they tend to be older, with advanced fragility, suffering from multiple conditions and associated complexity. There is a clear consensus about the need to adopt a “patient-centred” approach when providing healthcare services to these patients. In this sense, the design of an individualised care plan is possibly one of the most relevant practical components of such approach. The challenge for health professionals is incorporating this “patient-centred” perspective when prescribing medicines.
In recent years, we have seen the emergence of a new approach to care that emphasises the optimisation of medicines and the adherence to treatment plans. Polypharmacy has been the focus of numerous studies that have resulted in the availability of new instruments that assist clinicians and pharmacist when prescribing. These instruments introduce new useful concepts such as "potentially inadequate prescription" or "deprescription" (discontinuing medications that are no longer indicated). Also, recent investigations have shown the urgent need for new approaches to interventions improving adherence as a necessary accompanying phase to the adequacy of prescription.
All these circumstances underline the importance of developing implementation strategies so that professionals can incorporate this new knowledge and skills in their usual clinical practice.
Project SIMPATHY will help us move in this direction. By providing practical advice on how a strategy on polypharmacy can be developed, deployed and scaled-up, it will be of great help for initiatives like our own. We will be taking into consideration many of the suggestions made by the project to further expand our “Patient-centred prescription” model, notably to help us in our current effort to work together with the primary care level.
by Dr. Joan Espaulella
- A short video introducing SIMPATHY Project
- Case studies were conducted in nine locations across the EU. To learn more click here
- A short article about the medical app to assist with polypharmacy released by the National Health Service (NHS) Scotland called Polypharmacy Guidance. To learn more click here
- For detailed informations about project deliverables click here