SmartDrug e-formulary platform

SmartDrug e-formulary platform makes significant improvements to help medical students and their supervisors

Prescribing drugs is a key skill for medics, and training medical students in safe prescribing is a primary goal of SmartDrug – a case-based electronic formulary developed by Brighton and Sussex Medical School (in partnership with IdeaFarm).

This bespoke learning platform provides students with the opportunity to become familiar with the most commonly prescribed drugs in Foundation practice by working through realistic clinical scenarios and making therapeutic decisions. The feedback provided for each question and the SmartFacts sheets (drug summaries) students create aims to equip them with innate core knowledge of these common drugs. It results in safer prescribers and helps reduce drug errors across the healthcare system.

SmartDrug is approaching the end of its fourth academic year in use and there are now over 90 case scenarios and 270 drugs covering most clinical specialties. Each year, the BSMS Therapeutics team (led by Dr Mike Okorie) reviews feedback from students and supervising tutors to inform improvements in the digital platform and how SmartDrug is implemented in the course. This year, we made our most significant changes yet:

  • Students can now create SmartFacts sheets at any time, not just when they are working through a case scenario. They can also enter other drugs beyond those listed in the platform. This provides greater flexibility and freedom to students as to when they record information on drugs they encounter while still retaining the need to work through all the cases for their year of study.
  • The SmartDrug platform now allows for more than one correct answer in the prescribing questions. This small but significant change means that students can enter valid variations of a drug within a drug class (e.g. different ACE Inhibitors) to better reflect clinical practice.
  • The course team have improved the procedure of SmartDrug sign-off. Students now upload their Certificate of Completion to the BSMS ePortfolio where it can be monitored along with other evidence of course competencies. This makes the process fairer on the students’ supervising tutors and more efficient for administrative staff supporting the progression process.

Although the full cycle of this academic year is yet to complete, the impact of these changes is very promising. Students have already said that the platform and process is much improved; supervising staff have been successfully freed to focus on developmental conversations with their students; and the administrative processes are more robust and efficient. We will undertake another review this summer.

As the BSMS Therapeutics team looks to grow the educational effectiveness of SmartDrug, the focus is on the need to support students in the practical process of prescribing on electronic systems. Many of our graduates will encounter e-prescribing in their Foundation placements across the country and Brighton hospitals in UHS Foundation Trust are in the process of implementing it. BSMS are seeking to ensure we equip our future trainees in this key skill.