Dims: Drug Information Management System
Medicine or drug is used for cure and prevention of disease or treatment of injury (1). Discovery, development, and manufacturing of medicines are carried out by scientists and pharmaceutical companies and medicine are dispensed in pharmacies or drug stores. It is common, medicine needs approval from the government before being introduced and marketed in any country. The legislation of marketing and selling medicine is controlled by the government specified authorities.
Commonly, there exists a government-provided list of all approved medicine which acts as a guideline for the doctors and pharmaceutical industry in connection to generating prescriptions and manufacturing respectively. DIMS (Drug Information Management System) is a Bangladesh based mobile application which provides detail information about all medicine approved by DGDA (directorate general of drug administration) authority of Bangladesh for quick retrieval of drug information and introduced by ITmedicus (2). This application is available for all and can easily be found on google play and iStore. It is common practice that doctor prescribe medicine after consultation, physical checkup or diagnosis of patient and patients purchase medicines from pharmacies or medicine stores. This application helps healthcare professionals and patients for quick remembrance of drug information which can reduce medication error (3). Description For proper medication of patients, detail information of any medicine is vital for a healthcare professional. DGDA (directorate general of drug administration) authority of Bangladesh enlisted 3,598 generic, 29,304 brands and 207 manufacturers for allopathic medicines in Bangladesh (4). So, it very challenging for healthcare professionals to remember detail feature of all of those medicines during prescription or medication.
According to the developer, DIMS includes all information about a medicine, i. e. generic and brand name, company, pack size & price, strength, forms, indications, dosage & administrations, contraindications, precautions & warnings, side effects and pregnancy category of medicines available in Bangladesh (5). Mobile-based application use is a growing trend now a day (6) and thus came in the idea of DIMS, an application which brings the information on all medicines in the fingertip. DIMS has a great usability and is very user-friendly. It allows for multilateral use for searching information. In this application, searching can be done by every convenience forms in different situations, such as phrasal verbs, keywords or by generic/brand or by the condition. After finding the medicine by tapping the options all the information about the medicine can be explored. This also has time-saving features as it has a bookmark option to save the medicine for quick access in future. Thus, for immediate reference and cross-checking, DIMS has been admired by the doctors as a useful drug directory and they supported it as their ‘wonderful professional requirements’ (7).
DIMS allows doctors as well as patients or other stakeholders to learn and reconnoiter the details of every medicine which eventually will contribute to the better patient care and mitigating medication error. In Bangladesh, the pharmaceutical companies give the medicinal information in person to the doctors and they do it to promote their own brand of any specified medicine, this effort can be reduced by increasing use of DIMS by the doctors. Also, it can increase their outreach magnificently and save a lot of time. In Bangladesh the prescriptions are handwritten by the doctors and they hand in this to the patients, and they prescribed by the brand name of the medicine; doctors can ensure the group or generic of the medicine by checking DIMS, it will certainly increase their knowledge and awareness on medication and finally reduce the chance of miss use of medicine or making any mistake by confusing nearly similar brand name. For patients, DIMS has some unique advantages. As Bangladesh has many pharmaceutical companies and one generic medicine can be of several brands and thus they will vary significantly in packet and price. DIMS will give a free choice to choose the convenient price and preferred brand in just one finger tap. Moreover, DIMS will be very helpful for the patients who have to cross the border for any reason.
Doctors of Bangladesh always prescribes by brand name, so with DIMS, the patient’s traveling abroad can find the generic name of the medicine and they can always buy or consult about their medicines (with doctors or pharmacists) if needed, it no matter where they are in the world. Also, the vice versa for the patient’s coming to Bangladesh from abroad, by the generic name of the drug they can find their medicine. DIMS from quality aspects There is some analytical framework that helps in analyzing the quality of any health care system, one of this framework is “STEEEP” recommended and suggested by Institute of Medicine (IOM); it has six aims for critically reviewing any system (8). The first is safe, for DIMS it can be assured that this a safe application, apparently cannot harm any stockholders. DIMS is a timely integration of medicinal knowledge for reducing many efforts by the triangle of doctors, patients, and pharmaceutical industries; all of them can be benefited from the information provided by DIMS. The next aim is the effectiveness, so DIMS is normally expected to be used by the relevant stakeholders, so there is less chance of over or misuse of medicine. DIMS is efficient and equitable because it will reduce the medication and most importantly it gives all patients, their right to access to information, in this case, it is about their right to know what medicine they have been prescribed which is not often explained by the doctors in Bangladesh. Comparing DIMS with other similar applications While searching the similar applications, I found several similar applications.
For example Drugs. com and Netmeds. com; they both are medicine directory mHealth application of USA and India respectively. The basic for all these three application DIMS, Drugs. com and Netmeds. com are similar, they all provide a comprehensive list of approved medicines and also information such as indication and generic names are available within the applications. But I would say the later two have some advanced features, While DIMS does not give an alert on drug interactions the rest of two do and Drugs. com and Netmeds. com have options for keeping track on own prescriptions (9,10). DIMS is not an interactive app, that is it does not allows features for question and answers, whereas in Drug. com one can ask questions and answers about medicines(9) and in Netmed. com answers on medications can be asked directly to a pharmacist(10). In addition to drug interaction, Drug. com allows for. FDA alerts, allergy and medical condition interactions for better support to the patients. I think these dissimilarities are because of the difference in the technological advancement and usability among the countries that are among the three, I found Drug. com is the most advanced and better application and it is obvious because the USA has the greatest technological infrastructure and experts.
On the next part, India has tech experts who contributed to the making of netmed. com and thus it is also better than DIMS as it allows for interactions and communication with a pharmacist. On the other side, Bangladesh is now trying to cope with the new technological era, so DIMS is a primary drug directory and does not have the advanced features like the other two. Myself as a Health Informatician in the DIMS project Health informatician is a hybrid professional having knowledge in both medical and technological field, thus they can think beyond the box in terms of techno-medical innovation. If involved, a health informatician would surely make notable improvements. I have a background in pharmacy and have worked in the product management department in the pharmaceutical industry. Now, as a health informatician of the DIMS project, I will be finding more innovations and synchronizing the tech and medicinal part of the project that suits the context of Bangladesh. Moreover, I would introduce the OTC drug list in search option which will help general people or patient to identify which drugs they can consume without prescription or opinion of doctors. Because in Bangladesh there is a common practice of buying medicines from medicine stores without consulting a doctor. This practice is making the population vulnerable to antimicrobial resistance (11).
So, if there is a list of OTC drugs people can follow that and more aware while buying non-prescribed drugs. While working in Bangladesh, as a product manager in a leading pharmaceutical company, I observed that pharmaceutical companies generate patient or doctor’s feedback about their brands manually by their medical information officers, so if this feature is added to the application, the review of doctors and patients about a brand can be achieved and accessed very easily. Also, the features that allow for saving own prescriptions, alerts on contra-indications and a pharmacist to answer questions will make DIMS even a better solution for patients as well as doctors from the perspective of Bangladesh. In the long run, after a successful trial phase of all these new features, as a health informatician, I would try to introduce a central system for health professionals and patients where their all medical history along with the prescription will be available and they will not need to carry or preserve the prescription, the prescription will be available online and they can access this anywhere just with their reference number. This would introduce a new era in medication in Bangladesh.
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