MedSafer: Software to Reduce Unnecessary Medications in Older Adults

Award Date: 2017

Project Lead(s): Carole Goodine, Pharmacist

Project Title: Polypharmacy App to Improve Health Outcomes in Older Adults

What is the issue?

Many older adults take multiple medications. Some of these drugs may no longer be needed. Others may be harmful as their effects can change as people age. Taking a high number of medications, or taking certain drugs, increases the risk of harm.

What did we do?

MedSafer is a computer software program for improving the use of medications in older adults. Some hospitals use it to identify opportunities to reduce or discontinue drugs that are associated with an increased risk of harm, have a high incidence of side effects, or no longer have benefit. The process of reducing medications is called deprescribing.

We built a computer system that directly linked MedSafer with electronic assessment records of seniors living in the largest long-term care home in New Brunswick. Our goal was to help physicians, nurse practitioners, and pharmacists look for deprescribing opportunities. The system included an online version and an app.

What did we find?

Healthcare professionals had an overall positive impression of MedSafer. Unfortunately, the assessment data submission required by nursing homes changed during our project. They are no longer required to record all medications in a patient assessment. As a result, our system may lose access to medication data.