How MedicalDirector helped encourage appropriate prescribing for hydroxychloroquine
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How MedicalDirector helped encourage appropriate prescribing for hydroxychloroquine

COVID-19 has changed the lives and health of many Australians. As a result, much research has been undertaken to find a cure for the disease. Hydroxychloroquine, a drug used to treat malaria and certain auto-immune diseases, was touted by some as a potential treatment. However, the efficacy and safety of the drug for treating COVID-19 has not been proven, and there are significant risks to prescribing the drug for off-label purposes.

Additionally, there were concerns that the increased demand could result in shortages of the drug for those who needed it for on-label reasons. In response, the Therapeutic Goods Administration enacted changes to restrict initiation of hydroxychloroquine to certain indications and medical specialties.

As the leading provider of GP clinical software in Australia, MedicalDirector recognised that there was a role we could play in helping to communicate these changes to prescribers, via software prompts. This message was designed to discourage off-label prescribing of hydroxychloroquine.

This message was delivered in the form of an educational prompt through our clinical software, at the point of prescribing. The software prompt was peer reviewed, fact-based and delivered without the need to extract or handle sensitive patient information.

And, the communication worked. The prompt reached over 5,000 patient consultations, with prescriptions of hydroxychloroquine falling back down to pre-COVID levels from almost three times the standard weekly volume. Additionally, of those patients who did not have a prior prescription and where a prompt was shown, over a third did not end up receiving a script for the drug (whether in the same session or a session following the prompt).

From Government, to organisations driving crucial health research, to pharmaceutical companies, to support program operators, to healthcare technology providers, to our healthcare workers on the frontline, our entire reason for being as a healthcare industry is to make transformative improvements in health – to improve education, promote wellbeing, and prolong life.  

With MedicalDirector Research, we have an unparalleled opportunity to affect transformative change and to do so safely and with the trust of patients and clinicians.

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