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International consensus on definition of quality indicators for pharmaceutical care established

A series of quality indicators (QIs) for pharmaceutical care have been defined and agreed by an expert panel from the Pharmaceutical Care Network Europe (PCNE) following a systematic literature review.

The role of pharmacists has evolved over the last 40 years, moving from logistical service responsibilities to a greater focus in providing pharmaceutical care – namely an increase in their contribution to the care of individuals in order to optimise medicines use and improve health outcomes.

Measurement of the quality of pharmaceutical care can be assessed using QIs, provided that their indices have been robustly developed and the measurement properties scientifically established. However, despite the relative importance of QIs there were previously no universally accepted definition for use in research and practice, resulting in confusion amongst healthcare providers and researchers..

As such, the PCNE aimed to review existing definitions of QIs and develop a consensus on the definition of QIs for pharmaceutical care, the results of which are published in the International Journal of Clinical Pharmacy.

The process comprised of a systematic literature review, two surveys completed by an expert panel of 17 international experts from 14 countries, and a discussion using a modified Delphi technique.

Quality indicators redefined

The literature review identified a total of 182 quality indicator definitions from 174 articles. Some 63 QI definitions (35%) cited one of five references as the source, and 16 aspects that construct QI definitions were derived from the identified definitions.

Following the completion of two surveys and a discussion using a modified Delphi process, the expert panel of 17 international experts from 14 countries reached an agreement on a one-sentence definition of QIs for pharmaceutical care: ‘Quality indicators for pharmaceutical care are validated measurement tools to monitor structures, processes or outcomes in the context of care provided by pharmacists.‘

This definition was intended for universal use amongst researchers and healthcare providers of pharmaceutical care.

The panel added that with a clear definition of QIs, the next step should be the widespread communication and dissemination of this definition across the pharmaceutical care community. It is envisaged that this will to help guide future development and implementation of internationally applicable QIs that assist healthcare providers in monitoring and improving the quality of their services.

Guidance to support pharmacists in other areas of practice have also recently been published, including a joint declaration to streamline understanding of their roles in emergency departments.

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