Drug-drug interaction checking assisted by clinical decision support: a return on investment analysis

Pieter J. Helmons*, Bas O. Suijkerbuijk, Prashant Nannan Panday, Jos G. W. Kosterink

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)


Background Drug-drug interactions (DDIs) are very prevalent in hospitalized patients. Objectives To determine the number of DDI alerts, time saved, and time invested after suppressing clinically irrelevant alerts and adding clinical-decision support to relevant alerts.

Materials and methods The most frequently occurring DDIs were evaluated for clinical relevance by a multidisciplinary expert panel. Pharmacist evaluation of relevant DDIs was facilitated using computerized decision support systems (CDSS). During Phase 1, only CDSS-assisted DDI checking was implemented. During Phase 2, CDSS-assisted DDI checking remained in place, and clinically irrelevant DDIs were suppressed. In each phase, the number of alerts and duration of pharmacist DDI checking were compared to conventional DDI checking. In addition, the time invested to implement and configure the CDSS was compared to the time saved using CDSS-assisted DDI checking.

Results CDSS-assisted DDI checking resulted in a daily decrease of DDI checking alerts from 65 to 47 alerts in Phase 1 (P=.03) and from 73 to 33 alerts in Phase 2 (P=.003). DDI checking duration decreased from 15 to 11 minutes (P=.044) and from 15 1/2 to 8 1/2 minutes (P=.001) in Phases 1 and 2, respectively. Almost 298 of the 392 hours required for implementation were invested by pharmacists. An annual timesaving of 30 hours yielded a return on investment of 9.8 years.

Conclusion CDSS-assisted DDI checking resulted in a 55% reduction of the number of alerts and a 45% reduction in time spent on DDI checking, yielding a return on investment of almost 10 years. Our approach can be used to refine other drug safety checking modules, increasing the efficiency of checking for drug safety without the need to add more staff pharmacists.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)764-772
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of the American Medical Informatics Association
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Jul-2015


  • drug interactions
  • clinical decision support systems
  • return on investment
  • CPOE
  • CARE

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