Objective: The US Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality funded an evidence report to address seven questions on multiple aspects of the effectiveness of medication management information technology (MMIT) and its components (prescribing, order communication, dispensing, administering, and monitoring).
Materials and methods: Medline and 11 other databases without language or date limitations to mid-2010. Randomized controlled trials (RCTs) assessing integrated MMIT were selected by two independent reviewers. Reviewers assessed study quality and extracted data. Senior staff checked accuracy.
Results: Most of the 87 RCTs focused on clinical decision support and computerized provider order entry systems, were performed in hospitals and clinics, included primarily physicians and sometimes nurses but not other health professionals, and studied process changes related to prescribing and monitoring medication. Processes of care improved for prescribing and monitoring mostly in hospital settings, but the few studies measuring clinical outcomes showed small or no improvements. Studies were performed most frequently in the USA (n=63), Europe (n=16), and Canada (n=6).
Discussion: Many studies had limited description of systems, installations, institutions, and targets of the intervention. Problems with methods and analyses were also found. Few studies addressed order communication, dispensing, or administering, non-physician prescribers or pharmacists and their MMIT tools, or patients and caregivers. Other study methods are also needed to completely understand the effects of MMIT.
Conclusions: Almost half of MMIT interventions improved the process of care, but few studies measured clinical outcomes. This large body of literature, although instructive, is not uniformly distributed across settings, people, medication phases, or outcomes.