It has recently been said that for a health professional to keep up to date in their own specialty, they will have to read 40–50 research papers each day. Add to this important published work on general healthcare issues and it is obvious that achieving this is just not possible.
Before looking at possible ways of dealing with this, let us examine, from a prescriber’s point of view, why keeping up to date can be such a major challenge.
Drug therapy is the most common therapeutic intervention in Western medicine. In a typical hospital tens of thousands of doses will be administered daily, and throughout Europe millions of doses will be taken each day by patients in the community.
There are two major priorities in ensuring that patients gain optimum benefit from their medicines and the risks to them are minimised. The first is that the prescriber selects the most appropriate medicines for the patient to treat their condition, while taking into account any co-existing condition. The second is that the system and processes by which patients obtain their medicines are as safe and efficient as possible.
Achieving these priorities against an almost inexorable output of information, data and evidence is difficult enough for the practitioner. However, increasing knowledge on existing medicines is not the only pressure. New drugs and innovative treatments come onto the market at an alarming rate. These now include biotechnological products and soon gene therapy will arrive. Governments and other third party funders of healthcare want maximum value for money while the pharmaceutical industry heavily markets newer and more expensive medicines. Healthcare demands are increasing, as are patient expectations.
Healthcare provision is also changing. In the arena of medicines there are new prescribers, such as nurses and pharmacists, and elements of care are increasingly being devolved from doctors to other practitioners. Electronic prescribing is becoming more common and new and innovative ways of managing medicines are emerging. Add to this the changing situation in some of Europe’s emerging nations and the situation for individual prescribers and associated health professionals across Europe is challenging.
Hospital Prescriber Europe is designed to help unravel some of these complexities. It is a regular publication aimed at hospital pharmacists, hospital doctors and others involved in supporting prescribing. It will contain independent evidence-based reviews on the current drug management of a range of conditions, written by experts from across Europe. Furthermore, it will cover innovation in prescribing and prescribing support systems, both as reviews and descriptive papers by those at the leading edge of prescribing.
Although Hospital Prescriber Europe can never meet all the needs of the healthcare professional it will provide current, evidence-based information for the practitioner helping them in their prescribing decisions and providing guidance on medicines management. We hope that you will become a regular reader. To ensure that you receive your personally addressed complimentary copy of every issue, please complete and return the FREEPOST reader reply card without delay.
Chris Cairns, Editor