CancelRx implementation: Observed changes to medication discontinuation workflows over time

Explor Res Clin Soc Pharm. 2022 Jan 25:5:100108. doi: 10.1016/j.rcsop.2022.100108. eCollection 2022 Mar.


Introduction: When patients are seen in an ambulatory outpatient clinic, such as their primary care provider's office, the prescriber often stops or discontinues medications. Although medication discontinuations are documented in the clinic's health record, this information may not be communicated to the pharmacy. Within the last decade, CancelRx has attempted to address this issue by sending a message from the clinic to the pharmacy when a medication has been discontinued or changed.

Objectives: This project studied pharmacy medication discontinuation workflows and pharmacists' perspectives at 3 UW Health outpatient pharmacies before and after implementation of CancelRx.

Methods: CancelRx was implemented at UW Health in October 2017. Pharmacists from 3 outpatient pharmacies were observed at 3 distinct time points. The research team conducted 9 observations 3-months before CancelRx implementation (July 2017). Additionally, 9 observations were completed at 3-months after CancelRx implementation (January 2018) and at 9-months after CancelRx implementation (July 2018). Collective case study and comparative workflow modeling were used in this study. Observation field notes were deductively coded and aggregated to determine task frequency, occurrence, and patterns using an interpretivist theoretical approach.

Results: During the study, 106 medication discontinuation instances (referred to as cases) were observed; 28 cases 3-months prior to CancelRx, 59 cases 3-months after CancelRx, and 16 cases 9-months after CancelRx. Medication discontinuation tasks aligned with the predetermined workflow: receiving and investigating the discontinuation messages, matching the message to the medication in the patient's profile and discontinuing it, documenting and communicating the message to others as necessary. After implementing CancelRx, the workflow changed as most pharmacists eliminated the investigating and documenting tasks.

Conclusions: This study provided insight into the medication discontinuation workflow in community pharmacies, especially after implementing CancelRx. Organizations are recommended to proactively consider the implications for novel health information technology before implementation to anticipate workflow and pharmacy practice changes and improve acceptance and effectiveness.

Keywords: CancelRx; Health IT; Medication discontinuation; Workflow.