Checking side effects: Pharmacist creates an app for that

February 14, 2012

Matthew Murawski, PharmD, has a new tool to help catch potential medication interactions before they happen: an iPad.

Matthew Murawski, PharmD, has a new tool to help catch potential medication interactions before they happen: an iPad.

The Purdue University associate professor developed a 5-question checklist that catches up to 60% of known side effects associated with the 200 most commonly prescribed medications. The top 200 drugs account for about 90% of all pharmacy transactions.

When the patient presents a script, the pharmacist checks off the medication or medications the patient is taking and gives the iPad to the patient. The app asks yes-no questions about potential side effects, then displays the results as a bar graph showing which side effects are most likely and which are most problematic. The pharmacist can use the information to help focus patient counseling.

After each consult, the pharmacist resets the check list and the app. Because no personal data are entered and no results are saved, the same iPad or other tablet can be used by multiple patients without revealing any personal information.

The app, the Pharmaceutical Therapy-Related Quality of Life (PTRQoL), is based on patient survey data from 10 community pharmacies in Indiana. About half of patients reported symptoms that could be a drug-related side effect. Researchers refined the survey based on prior results to create the PTRQoL predictive tool.

Murawski hopes to develop a kiosk version that could be integrated with the pharmacy computer system to automatically produce a checklist tailored to each patient. If pharmacies can store and integrate the results with the patient’s medical record, the questionnaire can be refined on each subsequent visit.

Repeat usage should be able to capture all known side effects from each patient’s personal drug regimen to better guide patient counseling and prescribing.