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Ward Medication Management takes medication-related, falls risk reduction to dizzying heights

Using multi-dimensional approach to quantify and stratify falls risk, our goal is to prevent falls in older adults.

Photo of Duncan Yorkston
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Many medications have the potential to increase the risk of falls. These risks are particularly apparent in older adults who are often sensitive to the adverse effects of medications. There are a variety of complex and sometimes subtle mechanisms in which medications and other factors can contribute to falls. These may include effects on cognition, blood pressure, balance, gait, muscle strength and eye sight. Beyond the immediate impacts, there may be long lasting implications for those who suffer from falls. Detrimental effects upon confidence and quality of life may occur and many individuals find themselves forced to shift to a higher level of care following a fall. 

By analysing pharmacoepidemilogical data gathered from thousands of completed medication reviews, we can quantitatively assess and stratify falls risk. Using this method, we can assign a level of falls risk based on a combination of factors including age, gender, medications, pathology and medical conditions. This approach will highlight for prescribers situations whereby the approach to the management of an individual may confer extra risk of a serious adverse outcome such as a fall. 

What is a provocation or insight that might inspire others during this challenge?

Through DNA precision based medication plans and clinical quality of life driven algorithms, we can reduce the incidence of falls in older adults. With our extensive pharmacoepidemilogical data, we can quantify and stratify falls risks and we are developing technology to enable prescribing decision support at the point of care. We envisage that this will greatly reduce the occurrence of falls.

Tell us about your work experience:

We are a team of experienced clinical pharmacists working collaboratively with other health professionals to minimise the risk of medication misadventure in the community and aged care sector.

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Photo of Kate Rushton

Hi Duncan!

Thank you for bringing this up. Many members of the OpenIDEO community mentioned the link between medication and falls which is poorly understood by many older adults e.g. Interview with an 87 year old woman that lives alone . I hope to see you in the ideas phases because the work you are doing is very relevant.

Photo of Duncan Yorkston

Hi Kate,

Thanks for commenting. There are definitely some strong links between certain medications and falls. Our approach aims to analyse a person's medications together with a variety of other parameters which are recorded at the time of medication review. Our data shows that the average person in an aged care facility in Australia is prescribed in excess of 9 regular medications! This demonstrates the significant polypharmacy issues that exist within our aged care sector and the impact of all these combined medications on a person's risk of falls is likely to be substantial.
Duncan

Photo of Kate Rushton

Hi Duncan!

The ideas phase is open. I hope to see you in there.

Kate