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Epidemiologists and Monitoring Prescriptions

With the concept of collect once, use many times, it is increasingly evident that data collected for one purpose are used to satisfy another. The state of Rhode Island, for example, tracked the spread of H1N1 influenza by looking at electronic prescription records for Tamiflu and other antivirals prescribed. Data on the zip code of the pharmacy where the medication was dispensed and the age group of the patient receiving it were shared with state health department epidemiologists. They used the data to determine what areas of the state had the highest incidence of H1N1 flu. It has been conjectured that the data could similarly be analyzed to look for patterns of where these medications were being over-prescribed based on the numbers of cases reported (Tucker 2009). Such sharing was possible because Rhode Island is one of a few states with 100% use of electronic prescribing by pharmacies (Surescripts 2009).

Please help with the following;
1. How else could monitoring prescriptions be used?
2. Why would epidemiologists be interested in tracking H1N1?
3. What are some other ways that the collect once, use many philosophy be used?

Any help would be appreciated. Thank you.

Solution Preview

1. Monitoring prescriptions can be useful in a variety of ways:
*It helps doctors and epidemiologists identify trends with diseases or viruses (an increase in certain prescribed medicines could point to a break out.
*Help identify if certain medications are being over-prescribed by doctors
*Helps identify prescription drug abuse among patients
*Monitor how drugs are ...

Solution Summary

This article reviews the benefits of monitoring prescription drugs in epidemiology. It reviews how helpful monitoring can be in tracking diseases that could be come epidemic.