Assessing metabolic risk factors for psychiatric patients: An IT-supported task shift from physician to pharmacist

Christine Flagstad Bech*, Jesper Simonsen, Morten Hertzum

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Background: Psychiatric medication can have adverse effects such as weight gain, which is a metabolic risk factor for the development of cardiovascular disease and diabetes. This study aimed to assess whether an IT-supported task shift from physicians to pharmacists could improve clinical guideline compliance in assessing metabolic risk factors for psychiatric patients.
Method: An IT tool was designed and implemented in the electronic health record to enable pharmacists to efficiently screen patients for metabolic risk factors. The tool provided a risk score for each patient based on criteria from the cross-regional guideline. All admitted patients with a score were assessed by the pharmacists, who referred and discussed the patients with a physician when deemed relevant. We measured guideline compliance during baseline (manual screening) and intervention (automated screening) after implementing the IT tool and pharmacist assessment. After the intervention period, we conducted follow-up interviews with all participating pharmacists.
Results: Guideline compliance increased significantly from 26 % (baseline) to 63 % (intervention) (Fisher’s exact test p < .001, N = 98). The task shift from physicians to pharmacists was also significant (Fisher’s exact test, p < .001, N = 40). Interviews revealed that the pharmacists found the task shift meaningful and received positive feedback from the physicians. The facilitators of the task shift included interprofessional collaboration, physician shortage, provider empowerment, and the manageable nature of the task. The barriers included a need for further competence development and lack of pharmacist authorization. The IT tool was considered useful and suggestions for improvements emerged.
Conclusion: The IT-supported task shift from physician to pharmacist significantly improved guideline compliance in the assessment of metabolic risk factors in psychiatric patients. The findings support increasing the pharmacist’s role in psychiatric care to improve patient outcomes.
Original languageEnglish
Article number105483
JournalInternational Journal of Medical Informatics
Number of pages5
Publication statusPublished - 2024

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