Antibiotic resistance has been a major concern of policymakers for decades, with wide-ranging impacts upon the world’s food production, sanitation, hospital treatment, and population health systems. Here, Katie McCall of Greater Manchester Connected Health City (GM CHC) discusses how their newly launched antibiotic prescribing dashboard can help healthcare stakeholders and policymakers to understand the extent of current antibiotic prescribing across England and Wales and, eventually, allow GPs to optimise antibiotic prescribing in their own areas.
- Antibiotic resistance, which has been highlighted by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as a global health threat, must be tackled before developing into a healthcare crisis. WHO has also outlined the link between the misuse of antibiotics and the acceleration of antibiotic resistance
- The GM CHC’s National Antibiotic Prescribing Dashboard uses anonymised data to create a detailed and accurate picture of antibiotic prescribing in England and Wales
- By understanding what drives antibiotic prescribing in specific regions/areas, UK healthcare professionals and policymakers can develop more effective interventions to mitigate inappropriate prescribing practices
- The next phase of the Dashboard’s development will use this data to give GPs a new tool to optimise their use of antibiotics in their own areas
Antibiotic resistance has been outlined as one of the most urgent global health problems by healthcare and research organisations across the world. Research from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control shows that, 33,000 deaths in Europe were attributed to infections caused by antibiotic resistant bacteria in just one year.
According to a study funded by Public Health England, up to 1 in 5 antibiotics were classified as inappropriately prescribed in primary care in the UK, with the NHS highlighting the link between antibiotic resistance and inappropriate prescribing. With this in mind, it’s clear that measures need to be put in place to prevent antibiotic resistance from developing into a healthcare crisis.
Understanding antibiotic prescribing drivers across the country
In order to implement more effective antibiotic resistance strategies, it’s essential that policymakers understand the key drivers which influence antibiotic prescribing behaviours in their specific region. Research from the Greater Manchester Connected Health City (GM CHC) programme shows that there are a number of key factors which impact prescribing, e.g. deprivation levels and GP location.
The analysis showed that northern, socio-economically deprived regions were antibiotic prescribing ‘hot spots,’ which suggests that these regions may require more concentrated antibiotic stewardship programmes, in comparison to their southern, more affluent counterparts where antibiotic prescription rates are notably lower.
The study from GM CHC recommended the implementation of specific area-level strategies that are more tailored to suit each patient catchments’ requirements, rather than implementation of a national, overarching strategy. Another study from GM CHC reveals a strong link between the prescribing antibiotics and the prescribing of other types of medicine, with high-prescribing practices issuing up to 80% more antibiotics than low-prescribing practices.
Turning anonymised health data into actionable information
As part of the GM CHC antibiotic resistance project, the research team have analysed data from 400 GP practices and more than 20 million consultations and made this anonymised data available in the form of a new digital dashboard.
The National Antibiotic Prescribing Dashboard allows a range of health stakeholders, including policy makers, to better understand the factors that influence the UK’s antibiotic prescribing profile.
The National Antibiotic Prescribing Dashboard data shows that factors such as GP Practice location, time spent with patients and staff shortages impact on the number of antibiotics prescribed.
The dashboard also reveals that patients considered to be at ‘low risk’ of hospitalisation from infection-related complications are prescribed just as many antibiotics as patients who are at ‘high risk’ of being hospitalised within the next 30 days. This clearly demonstrates the need for effective antibiotic optimisation strategies, to ensure that the people who are being prescribed antibiotics are the patients who need them most.
Funded by the Department of Health, the Dashboard has been developed for a range of stakeholders including healthcare providers, academic institutions, CCG’s, and local authorities to better understand the existing antibiotic prescribing landscape and to help meet the Government’s target of reducing the number of inappropriate prescriptions by 50% by 2020.
Next Steps: GP Antibiotic Prescribing Dashboard
In addition to the National Antibiotic Prescribing Dashboard (available now), in the coming months a functionality will be added to the dashboard exclusively for GPs and other Primary Care healthcare professionals, to support them in optimising their antibiotic prescribing.
This add-on tool, the GP Antibiotic Prescribing Dashboard, will provide GPs and other prescribers with the information that they need to compare their own antibiotic prescribing patterns to national and regional prescribing rates. Practices will be able to use the Dashboard as a tool to see whether their patients are considered ‘high-risk- or ‘low-risk’ of developing infection related complications, enabling them to use this data to help make a decision as to whether a prescription is needed (or not.)
Accessing the National Antibiotic Prescribing Dashboard
The new dashboard is available now. To access the dashboard, you should:
1) Register for an account here
2) Wait for an email from firstname.lastname@example.org to confirm your account’s approval and click on the link in the email to update your password.
3) Update your password & access the dashboard.