The use of Patient-Held Information about Medication to support medicines optimisation (The PHIMed Study)

An investigation into the use of patient-held information about medication to support medicines optimisation.

Prof Bryony Franklin, University College London

We know that when people move from one healthcare setting to another (such as from their own home to hospital), errors can occur in communication of information about their medicines. We also know that many patients want to be more active partners in their healthcare. Although patients are increasingly able to access their GP medication records, these do not include over-the-counter or specialist medication, and are sometimes inaccurate.

Some patients use different types of patient-held information about medication (abbreviated to “PHIMed”) to help them remember their current medicines, and to show to healthcare professionals. This may be on paper or an electronic device, and may use formal documents from healthcare providers, commercially available “apps”, or documents created by patients themselves. However, we do not know how PHIMed should be used, whether it improves patients’ health, or what the most important features are. Discussion with patients and carers within North West London suggests this is an important area for research.

We would therefore like to find out how PHIMed is used in practice, what helps and hinders its use, and what the important features are. We will then use the results to design a larger study where some patients are given PHIMed and some are not, so that we can find out whether it affects their health and wellbeing.

Our study will include patients with long term conditions, including some with carers (children, older people and people with learning disabilities), as well as healthcare professionals. The study has four parts:

  1. First, we will carry out individual interviews with 16 healthcare professionals (doctors, nurses, pharmacists, opticians and dentists) and two group interviews each with 12 patients and carers. These will be designed to examine participants’ views about the role of PHIMed, its important features, what helps and hinders its use, and any disadvantages to its use.
  2. We will recruit 60 PHIMed users, including a mix of people who use paper and electronic PHIMed. We will ask them to talk through how they have used it in the last three months, who they have shown it to, and how healthcare professionals have responded. We will also ask about the important features and why they started using PHIMed.
  3. We will create a list of the PHIMed tools used / available in the UK. We will describe how they work and which important features they have, based on those identified above.
  4. Finally, we will draw together all the results to help us understand how information about medication is recorded, used and transferred among different people, documents and devices.

The results will be used to produce guidance for policy makers, healthcare professionals and the public about how PHIMed should be used and developed in the future to benefit patients. This will also help us design a bigger study of the benefits of PHIMed. We will present the results at least one conference and publish at least one research paper so that other researchers can build on our results.

This project was awarded funding in April 2017 and ran from September 2017 to February 2019.

See the detailed project description for more information.

The final report is available to view here.