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Barriers and Opportunities for the Use of Digital Tools in Medicines Optimization Across the Interfaces of Care: Stakeholder Interviews in the United Kingdom

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Clare TolleyORCiD, Neil Watson, Dr Hamde Nazar, Jude HeedORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


©Clare Tolley, Helen Seymour, Neil Watson, Hamde Nazar, Jude Heed, Dave Belshaw.Background: People with long-term conditions frequently transition between care settings that require information about a patient’s medicines to be transferred or translated between systems. This process is currently error prone and associated with unintentional changes to medications and miscommunication, which can lead to serious patient consequences. One study estimated that approximately 250,000 serious medication errors occur in England when a patient transitions from hospital to home. Digital tools can equip health care professionals with the right information at the right time and place to support practice. Objective: This study aimed to answer the following questions: what systems are being used to transfer information across interfaces of care within a region of England? and what are the challenges and potential opportunities for more effective cross-sector working to support medicines optimization? Methods: A team of researchers at Newcastle University conducted a qualitative study by performing in-depth semistructured interviews with 23 key stakeholders in medicines optimization and IT between January and March 2022. The interviews lasted for approximately 1 hour. The interviews and field notes were transcribed and analyzed using the framework approach. The themes were discussed, refined, and applied systematically to the data set. Member checking was also performed. Results: This study revealed themes and subthemes pertaining to 3 key areas: transfer of care issues, challenges of digital tools, and future hopes and opportunities. We identified a major complexity in terms of the number of different medicine management systems used throughout the region. There were also important challenges owing to incomplete patient records. We also highlighted the barriers related to using multiple systems and their subsequent impact on user workflow, a lack of interoperability between systems, gaps in the availability of digital data, and poor IT and change management. Finally, participants described their hopes and opportunities for the future provision of medicines optimization services, and there was a clear need for a patient-centered consolidated integrated health record for use by all health and care professionals across different sectors, bridging those working in primary, secondary, and social care. Conclusions: The effectiveness and utility of shared records depend on the data within; therefore, health care and digital leaders must support and strongly encourage the adoption of established and approved digital information standards. Specific priorities regarding understanding of the vision for pharmacy services and supporting this with appropriate funding arrangements and strategic planning of the workforce were also described. In addition, the following were identified as key enablers to harness the benefits of digital tools to support future medicines optimization: development of minimal system requirements; enhanced IT system management to reduce unnecessary repetition; and importantly, meaningful and continued collaboration with clinical and IT stakeholders to optimize systems and share good practices across care sectors.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Tolley C, Seymour H, Watson N, Nazar H, Heed J, Belshaw D

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: JMIR Medical Informatics

Year: 2023

Volume: 11

Online publication date: 10/03/2023

Acceptance date: 25/01/2023

Date deposited: 27/03/2023

ISSN (electronic): 2291-9694

Publisher: JMIR Publications Inc.


DOI: 10.2196/42458

PubMed id: 36897631


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Funder referenceFunder name
Academic Health Science Network
National Health Service England Digital Primary Care First program