Saturday, October 10, 2015

OpenMedicine - for the safety of medicines and patients

OpenMedicine is an ambitious attempt to support health policy development across European countries and globally in a matter that may affect all of us, since it impacts safety and quality of healthcare in general, and cross-border healthcare in particular.

To better enable cross-border healthcare delivery, particularly the exchange of ePrescriptions and safe dispensation of prescribed medicinal products, the openMedicine global initiative advances the unique identification of medicinal products (MPs) and thereby patient safety in cross-border settings.

Major stakeholders harmonise their respective efforts to deliver

  • a common data model based on and extending standards in use for prescribed medications 
  • an unambiguous vocabulary for the description and identification of medicinal and pharmaceutical products 
  • robust rules to account for and gradually harmonize concepts and practices of therapeutic and economic substitution 
  • an actionable global roadmap to advance post-project implementation realising interoperable and safe eHealth services across local, state, and international borders 
  • coordination of practical solutions and policy recommendations of OpenMedicine with the policy recommendations of the EU/US roadmap process for eHealth cooperation.

The European Union eHealth Action Plan 2012-2020 - Innovative healthcare for the 21st century notes that information and communication technologies (ICT) applied to health (eHealth) can increase the efficiency, safety and quality of health services, and unlock innovation in health markets. At the EU Member State level, much has already been achieved with respect to unleashing the power and benefits from eHealth applications.

Delivering efficient cross-border healthcare opens up great opportunities for eHealth applications, but also poses specific challenges, like differences in language, alphabets, culture, etc. The ePrescription pilots implemented as part of the European epSOS project identified the “delivery” problem of medicinal products (MPs) mentioned in a prescription as one in urgent need for a solution: it discovered cases where the identification of the medicinal product (MP), which was noted in a prescription from a given country, was impossible for a pharmacist wanting to dispense it in another country. The pharmacist was unable to select from the pharmaceutical products available in that country the product that perfectly matched the prescribed pharmaceutical product. Or, if substitution was permitted, a similar product in line with national regulation.