PHIRST Trial - pharmacist consults: prioritization of HIV-patients with a referral screening tool

AIDS Care. 2017 Nov;29(11):1463-1472. doi: 10.1080/09540121.2017.1338657. Epub 2017 Jun 14.


The role of pharmacists in HIV outpatient clinics has greatly increased in the past decades. Given the limited resources of the health system, the prioritization of pharmacist consults is now a main concern. This study aimed to create a scoring system allowing for standardized prioritization of pharmacist consults for patients living with HIV. Data was retrospectively collected from 200 HIV patients attending the Chronic Viral Illness Service at the McGill University Health Center. An expert panel consisting of four pharmacists working in the field of HIV prioritized each patient individually, after which a consensus was established and was considered as the gold standard. In order to create a scoring system, two different methods (Delphi, statistical) were used to assign a weight to each characteristic considered to be important in patient prioritization. A third method (equal weight to each characteristic) was also evaluated. The total score per patient for each method was then compared to the expert consensus in order to establish the score cut-offs to indicate the appropriate categories of delay in which to see the patient. All three systems failed to accurately prioritize patients into urgency categories ("less than 48 h", "less than 1 month", "less than 3 months", "no consult required") according to expert pharmacist consensus. The presence of high level interactions between patient characteristics, the limited number of patients and the low prevalence of some characteristics were hypothesized as the main causes for the results. Creating a prioritization tool for pharmacy consults in HIV outpatient clinics is a complex task and developing a decision tree algorithm may be a more appropriate approach in the future to take into account the importance of combinations of patient characteristic.

Keywords: Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV); outpatient clinic; patient care; pharmacist consult; prioritization tool; screening tool.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Ambulatory Care*
  • Decision Support Systems, Clinical*
  • HIV Infections / drug therapy*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Medication Therapy Management / organization & administration*
  • Middle Aged
  • Outcome and Process Assessment, Health Care
  • Patient-Centered Care / organization & administration*
  • Pharmacists*
  • Professional Role
  • Referral and Consultation
  • Retrospective Studies