Monash pioneers big data approach to improving use of medicines for people with dementia

9 November 2017

Monash University researchers will work with international collaborators to develop a common data model to generate high-quality evidence about the safe and effective prescribing of medicines following heart attack in people with dementia.

Jenni IlomakiIn a novel approach, the model will bring together Victorian hospital and prescribing data, United States Medicare data and the United Kingdom Clinical Practice Research Datalink. This approach will facilitate parallel studies using the same standardised procedures, therefore saving time and resources while increasing the international relevance of research findings.

The study, which has attracted $100 000 in funding from the Victorian Medical Research Acceleration Fund, brings together leading researchers from the three universities that are partners in PharmAlliance: Monash University, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and University College London. Each is a leading pharmacy school in its country.

“While randomised controlled trials are considered the ‘gold standard’ for investigating medicine efficacy, these trials are not usually conducted in vulnerable patient groups at high risk of adverse events, such as older people and those with dementia.” said lead investigator Dr Jenni Ilomaki, of Monash University’s Centre for Medicine Use and Safety (“CMUS”)

“Rapid advances in the availability of big data have the potential to provide clinicians and policy makers with new evidence to optimise medicine use, especially for vulnerable groups,” she said.

Previous research published by CMUS has highlighted difference in prescribing patterns for people with and without dementia.

“It is unclear whether these disparities reflect legitimate consideration of susceptibility to medicine side-effects and consumer goals of care, or the unjustified exclusion of people with dementia from receipt of evidence-based healthcare,” Dr Ilomaki said.

The present research will provide much needed evidence to assist clinicians, consumers and carers make better choices regarding medicine selection.