Background: A computerized physician order entry (CPOE) system combined with a clinical decision support system can reduce duplication of medications and thus adverse drug reactions. However, without infrastructure that supports patients' integrated medication history across health care facilities nationwide, duplication of medication can still occur. In Taiwan, the National Health Insurance Administration has implemented a national medication repository and Web-based query system known as the PharmaCloud, which allows physicians to access their patients' medication records prescribed by different health care facilities across Taiwan. Objective: This study aimed to develop a scalable, flexible, and thematic design-based clinical decision support (CDS) engine, which integrates a national medication repository to support CPOE systems in the detection of potential duplication of medication across health care facilities, as well as to analyze its impact on clinical encounters. Methods: A CDS engine was developed that can download patients' up-To-date medication history from the PharmaCloud and support a CPOE system in the detection of potential duplicate medications. When prescribing a medication order using the CPOE system, a physician receives an alert if there is a potential duplicate medication. To investigate the impact of the CDS engine on clinical encounters in outpatient services, a clinical encounter log was created to collect information about time, prescribed drugs, and physicians' responses to handling the alerts for each encounter. Results: The CDS engine was installed in a teaching affiliate hospital, and the clinical encounter log collected information for 3 months, during which a total of 178,300 prescriptions were prescribed in the outpatient departments. In all, 43,844/178,300 (24.59%) patients signed the PharmaCloud consent form allowing their physicians to access their medication history in the PharmaCloud. The rate of duplicate medication was 5.83% (1843/31,614) of prescriptions. When prescribing using the CDS engine, the median encounter time was 4.3 (IQR 2.3-7.3) min, longer than that without using the CDS engine (median 3.6, IQR 2.0-6.3 min). From the physicians' responses, we found that 42.06% (1908/4536) of the potential duplicate medications were recognized by the physicians and the medication orders were canceled. Conclusions: The CDS engine could easily extend functions for detection of adverse drug reactions when more and more electronic health record systems are adopted. Moreover, the CDS engine can retrieve more updated and completed medication histories in the PharmaCloud, so it can have better performance for detection of duplicate medications. Although our CDS engine approach could enhance medication safety, it would make for a longer encounter time. This problem can be mitigated by careful evaluation of adopted solutions for implementation of the CDS engine. The successful key component of a CDS engine is the completeness of the patient's medication history, thus further research to assess the factors in increasing the PharmaCloud consent rate is required.
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