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IT and pharmacy are a perfect match!


Kazeem Olalekan
Kazeem Olalekan


I HAVE been fascinated by technology since using the earlier version of Word for Windows for my final year university projects. I now embrace a range of technologies to make my life (both personal and professional) easier. So you might find me on Twitter (@bookapharmacist), on Facebook, or just interviewing people on YouTube. There are myriad ways in which technology impacts our lives and health these days: through social media, smartphone apps to wearable gadgets.

My MSc project (which feels like ages ago now!) focused on Hospital Information Support System (HISS) which was then born from the Patient Administration System (PAS) & Laboratory and Radiology systems that pervaded our NHS hospitals. It was one of the big infrastructure technology projects to drag the NHS from the dark ages of paper everywhere and system silos.

Like with most big bang projects, we wasted money here, learnt a few things there and then moved on. My project at the time was looking at how IT managers were doing with respect to meeting the then IM&T (Information Management & Technology) strategy of: person-based information; integrated computer system; information derived from operational systems; and information security, by year 2000.
Suffice it to say, the omen was not too good! The responses to my questionnaires indicated that few were going to meet the, then year 2000, target.

The National Program for IT (NPfIT), which superseded the HISS project attempted to learn from the lessons from HISS, but again, it became too bloated and was declared to have failed and was dismantled in 2011, amidst a barrage of criticism. While it is impossible to discount the role of politics in all of this, serious observers have suggested that we need to do better at implementing IT infrastructure projects within the current economic straightjacket.

There were some gems in the NPfIT program, and notable amongst this was the electronic prescribing system. Electronic prescribing (or e-prescribing) has the potential to:

  • improve safety of medicine use, and reduce the current and unacceptable levels of adverse drug events (ADEs)
  • generate new management data on medicines use
  • support the establishing and maintaining of hospital formularies
  • enable the redesign of aspects of the medicines use process and establish new practices.

Although the adoption of e-prescribing across NHS hospitals is still patchy, there is a momentum gathering to make this a reality.

My interest is in the area of electronic prescribing in children, and I’m even prepared to nail my colours to the mast through my dedicated pursuit of a PhD program in this area at the University of Southampton, with the hope of making a positive contribution. Electronic prescribing in children provides a number of challenges over and above that encountered in adult prescribing. This has a lot to do with the complexity of prescribing in children – you know, weight-based calculation of doses, dose banding (and the challenges that that this poses), specialty-based prescribing, impact of error on what is a vulnerable population…and so on and so on.

The nature of the challenge is enormous and the quality of decision support is critical to realising the benefits of e-prescribing in children. And here is the rub. There is a wide variability in the availability and quality of decision support tools for electronic paediatric prescribing and this represents, in my opinion, the holy grail. Focused program of research in this area is exactly what the doctor (or in fact the pharmacist) ordered!

Please feel free to get in touch if you require more information (or references) in this important area.

Kazeem Olalekan is a paediatric pharmacist at Southampton University Hospitals NHS Trust, and the lead behind the project. He has a special interest in IT and holds a Master’s degree in Business Information Technology.

Follow Kazeem @bookapharmacist



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