Theme 4: Enhancing the safety of medication and technology
Led by Professor Bryony Dean Franklin, this theme is working to enhance the safe use of medicines and healthcare technology.
Medication errors – avoidable mistakes in the drug treatment process – are among the leading causes of avoidable harm in healthcare systems globally, costing around $46 billion annually. We’re building on existing knowledge about medication errors and generating new evidence about the risks and benefits of technologies in healthcare, to make these interventions safer and more effective.
Our work in this theme aligns with the third World Health Organization Global Safety Challenge: Medication Without Harm. We’re working to support this challenge by tackling enduring problems, particularly those relating to prescribing patterns and behaviours, and developing human-centred technologies.
Find out more about how our researchers are building evidence to make medicines and healthcare technologies safer.
Augmenting clinical decision making and reducing medication errors
Up-to-date medication prescribing data is vital for clinicians to make safe and informed decisions on the front line. Too often though, this data is fragmented and, most importantly, not machine-readable. This makes it unusable for computerised systems like clinical decision support.
Our team of clinicians have been working with engineers and designers from IGHI’s Helix Centre, in partnership with the Royal Pharmaceutical Society. Together they have developed Dosium’s Touchdose app, one of the world’s most advanced, real-time medication decision support systems to enable safe, informed decision-making.
With funding and support from research grants, including a prestigious NIHR Invention for Innovation (i4i) award, the system puts doctors, nurses and pharmacists in direct contact with the most up-to-date and patient-specific medication guidance at all times.
By integrating a range of data including patient and drug manufacturers’ information, national formularies and hospital protocols, Touchdose ensures that the right patient receives the right drug, at the right dose, at the right time. While maintaining active research engagement with IGHI, Dosium successfully spun out from Imperial College London in October 2020 and is working closely with key national authorities, leading NHS Trusts and forward-thinking technology and clinical partners to deliver detailed decision support and world-class user experiences to the clinical front line.
Clearer communication between patients and professionals
When patients see different healthcare professionals in different places, mistakes can sometimes happen in communicating information about medicines. Some patients carry information about their own medicines to help with this, such as paper “passports” or apps on mobile devices. We’ve been exploring patients’ and professionals’ use of this patient-held medication information, involving patients in each stage of the research.
We’ve found that both patients and professionals find these tools helpful to communicate about medicines, so we’re now developing proposals to test a way to encourage more people to use them.
Find out more about our work that's improving the safety of medicines from Prof Bryony Dean Franklin: