CEO newsletter

The way your medicines information is disseminated is about to change lives

Jun 13, 2023

There is good reason for excitement as the future of product information is about to vastly improve how patients and healthcare professionals engage with medicines.


patient and hcp engaging with medicine information

Rich Cooper 
CEO, Datapharm

The healthcare landscape is about to see a phenomenal change in how we use medicine information, and at Datapharm, we believe we are at the forefront of this change.

What I’m talking about is a revolution which has been long due for the healthcare and pharma industries. Medicine information is going to be more integrated into clinical systems, creating new opportunities for understanding and increasing engagement with patients and HCPs.

The relevance of insights on patient and HCP engagement today

Patients are rightly becoming increasingly interested in their own health information, while there is increasing pressure on HCPs to help patients quickly without digging for information. Looking at today’s trends, we’ve recently seen a huge change in how we understand and manage our own health. We now have mobile apps such as zoe, which help us understand how food interacts with our bodies. On the public health side, we have services like Patients Know Best, which help patients keep track of their care plans and create one Personal Health Record, integrating into the NHS app.

This is great innovation, but how is Datapharm driving transformative change in a healthcare landscape with so many solutions for personal health?

Let me first explain how we started.

Our story with electronic Product Information for medicines

In 2019, we were looking at how we could maximise the benefit to healthcare from the medicine safety information it relies on daily. We began our journey with the premise that, in order to benefit our healthcare systems, we need to improve the ‘shape’ of our medicines data.

Since then, we became increasingly involved with Gravitate Health, a European open-source initiative to drive better patient outcomes through technology. We worked with them and HL7 to develop a standard for healthcare IT systems to follow; this has provided a pathway for electronic Product Information (ePI) for medicines to be exchanged and linked between these systems. This standard is called FHIR – Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (often referred to as HL7 FHIR).

How does this impact the real-life healthcare setting?

When these healthcare systems are better linked we can do a lot more with that information. Consider the following scenarios:

  • The prescriber looks at a couple of medications which the patient could take for their condition and is able to directly compare adverse reactions
  • It is easier for the patient to bring up only the information they are interested in; for example, side-effects.
  • A pregnant patient goes to the information leaflet on emc (in ePIL format), and a side-effect for someone who is pregnant or breast-feeding is highlighted to them
  • A patient is looking for an antihistamine while travelling abroad but cannot understand the paper leaflet in the foreign language. However, because the information is integrated into a global healthcare system, they can see the relevant information translated into their native language.

These scenarios are not yet present day, but due to the work that our development team is currently undertaking, these are genuine (if not inevitable) possibilities thanks to the standard we have defined.

Where we are today

We are the first company to implement the new FHIR standard in medicine safety information

On emc, medicines information is currently semi-structured – this means that SmPC or ePIL sections are defined to a set structure. However, text within those sections, such as an active ingredient, dosage amount or symptom, cannot be fully interpreted by a computer system without fully structured data.

With fully structured data, this gives us the possibility for life-changing scenarios such as those mentioned previously. At Datapharm we have already done the leg work, meaning that Pharma can relax about ensuring their medicines information is structured when they publish it on emc. It just needs the healthcare industry to follow and make use of the toolkit we’ve created.

Looking forward: emc regulatory is at the heart

Our solution for publishing medicine information on emc is at the very core of this – emc is the first medicine safety information resource to make use of the HL7 FHIR standard, with more information being structured over time. The wider-reaching implications for healthcare are that medicine safety and HCP and patient engagement is going to be transformed.

When healthcare systems are able to understand each other in the way I’ve described, this will enable more meaningful interactions and greater granularity about how these users interact with your product information.

What do I need to do as a Pharma company?

In regard to publishing your medicine information, we are making your lives as easy and as simple as possible so that you do not need to take any action at all. But you should understand how this new standard will impact healthcare systems so that you can take advantage of the opportunities to further engage with HCPs and patients.

Thank you for reading, and please do get in touch if you would like to know more, we’d be delighted to hear from you.

Learn more about FHIR