Background: The demand for anticoagulant treatment is increasing. We compared the benefits of computer-generated anticoagulant dosing with traditional dosing decided by experienced medical staff in achieving target international normalised ratios (INRs).
Methods: In five European centres we randomly assigned 285 patients in the stabilisation period and stabilised patients to the computer-generated-dose group (n=137) or traditional-dose group (n=148). Centres had a specialist interest in oral anticoagulation but no previous experience with computer-generated dosing. The computer program calculated doses and times to next visit. Our main endpoint was time spent in target INR range (Rosendaal method).
Findings: For all patients combined, computer-generated dosing was significantly beneficial overall in achieving target INR (p=0.004). The mean time within target INR range for all patients and all ranges was 63.3% (SD 28.0) of days in the computer-generated-dose group compared with 53.2% (27.7) in the traditional-dose group. For the stabilisation patients alone, computer-generated doses led to a non-significant benefit in all INR ranges (p=0.06), whereas in the stable patients the benefit was significant (p=0.02).
Interpretation: The computer program gave better INR control than the experienced medical staff and at least similar standards to the specialised centres should be generally available. Clinical outcome and cost effectiveness remain to be assessed.