University of Tasmania
An Internet-Based Method for Extracting Nursing Home Resident Sedative Medication Data From Pharmacy Packing Systems.pdf (965.89 kB)

An internet-based method for extracting nursing home resident sedative medication data from pharmacy packing systems: descriptive evaluation

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Background: Inappropriate use of sedating medication has been reported in nursing homes for several decades. The Reducing Use of Sedatives (RedUSe) project was designed to address this issue through a combination of audit, feedback, staff education, and medication review. The project significantly reduced sedative use in a controlled trial of 25 Tasmanian nursing homes. To expand the project to 150 nursing homes across Australia, an improved and scalable method of data collection was required. This paper describes and evaluates a method for remotely extracting, transforming, and validating electronic resident and medication data from community pharmacies supplying medications to nursing homes.

Objective: The aim of this study was to develop and evaluate an electronic method for extracting and enriching data on psychotropic medication use in nursing homes, on a national scale.

Methods: An application uploaded resident details and medication data from computerized medication packing systems in the pharmacies supplying participating nursing homes. The server converted medication codes used by the packing systems to Australian Medicines Terminology coding and subsequently to Anatomical Therapeutic Chemical (ATC) codes for grouping. Medications of interest, in this case antipsychotics and benzodiazepines, were automatically identified and quantified during the upload. This data was then validated on the Web by project staff and a “champion nurse” at the participating home.

Results: Of participating nursing homes, 94.6% (142/150) had resident and medication records uploaded. Facilitating an upload for one pharmacy took an average of 15 min. A total of 17,722 resident profiles were extracted, representing 95.6% (17,722/18,537) of the homes’ residents. For these, 546,535 medication records were extracted, of which, 28,053 were identified as antipsychotics or benzodiazepines. Of these, 8.17% (2291/28,053) were modified during validation and verification stages, and 4.75% (1398/29,451) were added. The champion nurse required a mean of 33 min website interaction to verify data, compared with 60 min for manual data entry.

Conclusions: The results show that the electronic data collection process is accurate: 95.25% (28,053/29,451) of sedative medications being taken by residents were identified and, of those, 91.83% (25,762/28,053) were correct without any manual intervention. The process worked effectively for nearly all homes. Although the pharmacy packing systems contain some invalid patient records, and data is sometimes incorrectly recorded, validation steps can overcome these problems and provide sufficiently accurate data for the purposes of reporting medication use in individual nursing homes.


Publication title

Journal of Medical Internet Research










School of Pharmacy and Pharmacology


JMIR Publications

Place of publication


Rights statement

Copyright 2017 The Authors Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

Repository Status

  • Open

Socio-economic Objectives

Health related to ageing