Initial evaluation of a computer-based medication management tool in a geriatric clinic

Thomas R. Hornick, Patricia A. Higgins, Charles Stollings, Lawrence Wetzel, Kathryn Barzilai, Dan Wolpaw

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Background: Optimal management of medication regimens remains a challenge for elderly patients and their providers. Tools that aid communication and adherence can be valuable but often do not meet expectations. Objective: The purpose of this article was to describe the development and preliminary evaluation of a computer-based medication management tool, the Visual Medication Profile (VMP), and to report initial feedback from geriatric patient and provider focus groups. Methods: For VMP development, an interdisciplinary team (ie, physicians, nurses, pharmacists, computer analysts, and programmers) designed the fully automated, Web-based intervention that integrates the Veterans Affairs Medical Center (VAMC) computer pharmacy system with the computerized patient record system. In addition to development of the required technology, a mixed methods design and a convenience sample were used to collect pilot data related to patient-provider issues about medication management, and the acceptance, feasibility, and usefulness of the VMP. This involved the use of focus groups and a pilot study group. Results: First, the interdisciplinary team developed the VMP by integrating data from the pharmacy database, the patient's database, and a pill photograph database. Second, patients and providers in the focus groups discussed medication management issues and evaluated a sample VMP. Patients (n = 8; mean age, 76 years; 5 black, 3 white) noted the following medication management problems: (1) not understanding the information provided by the physician; (2) multiple providers; and (3) unpronounceable names of medications. Providers (n = 8 [4 physicians, 4 nurse practitioners]) noted that patients and providers use different language to discuss medications; that there is a lack of congruence between patients' self-report of current medications and their medical record; and that there are severe time constraints for clinic appointments and concern regarding introducing a new clinical tool. Both groups favored a VMP-like tool to improve communication. In the VMP prototype pilot study, a patient-specific VMP was developed for each of 6 subjects (mean age, 79.7 years; 3 black, 3 white) from the outpatient geriatric clinic. Congruence rates ranged from 51% to 100%. Five of the 6 subjects participated in follow-up. The nurse's telephone log from the pilot study revealed that although 4 out of the 5 subjects and/or caregivers reported that they favored the VMP as a medical management tool, the use of the VMP at home varied considerably. Conclusions: The VMP is a promising tool for use by both patients and providers to improve medication management. Although it was developed in the VAMC system, its Web-based platform has the potential for export to other systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)62-69
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican Journal Geriatric Pharmacotherapy
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2006

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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