06. März 2020. Within the scope of the POLAR_MI (POLypharmacy, drug interActions and Risks) use case, 21 partners across Germany have joined forces to increase drug safety and improve the healthcare of patients taking multiple medications (polypharmacy). The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) has funded the project since February, and will ultimately provide nearly 5.5 million euros through May 2022. POLAR_MI expands on the infrastructure developed by BMBF’s Medical Informatics Initiative (MII), and unites institutions from MII’s four funded consortia.
Health risks posed by polypharmacy
Elderly patients in particular can often suffer from multiple conditions simultaneously (multimorbidity); consequently, they frequently take multiple medications. This polypharmacy is associated with increased risks: The drugs can influence each other (drug-drug interactions), and underlying diseases can affect how they are tolerated (disease-drug interactions). The intended effect of an individual active ingredient may be reduced to the point of losing its efficacy, or it may intensify. An objective of the POLAR_MI project is to determine how frequently potentially inappropriate medication (PIMs) occurs – and to identify which risk populations are especially impacted. By working closely with experts in laboratory medicine/clinical pathology, researchers may be able to determine if certain drug combinations are associated with certain patterns in renal function test values. The project therefore has the potential to leverage routine clinical data to provide an important basis for improved drug management.
POLAR_MI (POLypharmazie, Arzneimittelwechselwirkungen und Risiken)
Against this background, the POLAR_MI use case was launched on 1 February 2020 within the scope of the Medical Informatics Initiative. Its overarching goal is to identify drug-related health risks in patients with polypharmacy and multimorbidity, and to ultimately contribute to better drug/treatment safety.
Under the direction of Professor Markus Löffler (Leipzig University) and Professor André Scherag (University Hospital Jena), 60 representatives from all 21 project partners (including 13 university hospitals) convened on 2 March 2020 in Leipzig for their first meeting. As Löffler stated: “We will gain unique data from 13 university hospitals on the prescribed medication profiles of patients with multimorbidity.” Scherag emphasised: “We are very pleased with the great teamwork across disciplines and institutions within this project. For POLAR_MI, we have brought together IT experts, pharmacists, clinical pharmacologists, clinical pathologists and other health professionals and researchers.”
POLAR_MI intends to enhance and standardise electronic documentation of medication in individual hospitals, and to develop innovative algorithms for the classification of high-risk patients and drugs. In addition, the organisational and technical infrastructures, methods and processes created (and being created) within the Medical Informatics Initiative will be used to make medication data available to research – across multiple sites, in compliance with data protection requirements, and with the aim of improving patient treatments.
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