COVID-19 led to changes in community drug dispensing
The first study using the Welsh Dispensing DataSet available via SAIL Databank, has revealed how health services in Wales, such as community drug dispensing, changed throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Analyses led by Fatemeh Torabi and Ashley Akbari identified substantial fluctuations in dispensing patterns that corresponded with the timing of the UK national lockdowns. Many people on repeat prescriptions were provided 2 or 3 months’ supply of medication in order to ensure continuation of care, and the pandemic also interrupted routine immunisation pathways.
With social distancing, quarantine, and self-isolation during the pandemic, many individuals experienced changes in their routine interactions with clinical services such as blood tests, primary care consultations, community dispensing and repeat medication. This has raised concerns about missed opportunities in diagnosis as well as continuous monitoring, risk assessment and treatment of some patients. In fact, it is still not clear exactly how many people have been seriously affected and what the long-term impact of these changes will be.
In order to provide insights on various disease categories from a medication dispensing perspective, the research team developed an interactive dashboard that shows dispensing patterns for 20 disease categories in near real time. The dashboard displays the total number of medications dispensed to individual patients for various diseases between 2016 and 2021. It not only provides important insights into people’s health and specific health conditions, but can also support healthcare delivery planning and public health strategies.
More specifically, the research team believe that the research and dashboard will support healthcare delivery in three ways;
1) Providing novel and direct insights into disease management.
2)Monitoring and evaluating the clinical and health impact of changes in treatment patterns.
3) Identifying areas of unmet clinical need.
The initiative is part of the One Wales collaboration and delivered under the Con-COV (Controlling COVID-19 through enhanced population surveillance and intervention) project, which was funded and supported by HDR UK, ADR Wales, HCRW and the Medical Research Council.
Fatemeh Torabi and Ashley Akbari, Population Data Science, Swansea University
Torabi, F., Akbari, A. ., North, L. ., Lyons, J. ., Bedston, S. ., Abbasizanjani, H. ., Gravenor, M., Davies, G. ., Griffiths, R. ., Harris, D., Jenkins, N. ., Morris, A. ., Halcox, J. . and Lyons, R. A. . (2020) “Impact of COVID-19 pandemic on community medication dispensing: a national cohort analysis in Wales, UK”, International Journal of Population Data Science, 5(4). doi: 10.23889/ijpds.v5i4.1715.