Quality and Usability of Common Drug Information Databases

29 Dec

drug information


The size and complexity of the body of drug information is growing rapidly. This growth in the availability of drug information and the accompanying growth in medication use have necessitated advancement of the role of pharmacists as medication experts within multidisciplinary health care teams, particularly in hospitals. The use of clinical decision support tools such as electronic drug information databases can aid pharmacists in their provision of pharmaceutical care and has the potential to improve medication safety. As such, pharmacists’ access to user-friendly electronic resources that can quickly provide complete, accurate, and current medication information has become increasingly important, especially in hospital pharmacy practice, where clinical pharmacists are often directly involved in the therapeutic decision-making process.

The budgets of health care organizations may not allow for subscriptions to multiple drug information databases. Unfortu­nately, when only a single subscription is feasible, the choice between databases is not always made objectively, because these purchasing decisions can be influenced by many factors. For example, users’ preferences, and therefore purchasing decisions, may be influenced by users’ familiarity with a particular drug information database. Therefore, studies that objectively compare electronic drug information databases can be useful when contemplating subscription purchases. Previous studies have compared online drug information databases; however, these databases evolve rapidly, and there have been no recent analyses from the perspective of Canadian hospital pharmacists.
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The value of an online drug information database can be described in terms of its utility relative to its cost, where utility is defined as the extent to which the database satisfies the user’s need for information (database quality and performance), and the cost comprises both the purchase cost and the time spent retrieving the desired information (usability). The objective of this study was to determine an overall preference among the most commonly used online drug information databases within Vancouver Coastal Health — Providence Health Care, namely Clinical Pharmacology, Lexi-Comp Online, and Micromedex, on the basis of a multimodal appraisal of the quality, performance, and usability of each database, as well as users’ preferences.