Prescribing Indicators: What Can Canada Learn from European Countries?

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IS Sketris
JE Fisher
EM Langille Ingram
U Bergman
M Andersen
V Vlahovi?-Pal?evski


Drug utilization, prescribing indicators, quality indicators, collaboration, internationality



Drug therapy can improve patients’ quality of life and health outcomes; however, underuse, overuse and inappropriate use of drugs can occur. Systematic examination of potential opportunities for improving prescribing and medication use is needed.



To convene a diverse group of stakeholders to learn about and discuss advantages and limitations of data sources, tools and methods related to drug prescribing indicators; foster methods to assess safe, appropriate and cost-effective prescribing; increase awareness of international organizations who develop and apply performance indicators relevant to Canadian researchers, practitioners and decision-makers; and provide opportunities to apply information to the Canadian context.



Approximately 50 stakeholders (health system decision-makers, senior and junior researchers, healthcare professionals, graduate students) met June 1-2, 2009 in Halifax, Canada. Four foundational presentations on evaluating quality of prescribing were followed by discussion in pre-assigned breakout groups of a prepared case (either antibiotic use or prescribing for seniors), followed by feedback presentations.



Many European countries have procedures to develop indicators for prescribing and quality use of medicines. Indicators applied in diverse settings across the European Union use various mechanisms to improve quality, including financial incentives for prescribers.



Further Canadian approaches to develop a system of Canadian prescribing indicators would enable federal/provincial/territorial and international comparisons, identify practice variations and highlight potential areas for improvement in prescribing, drug use and health outcomes across Canada. A more standardized system would facilitate cross-national research opportunities and enable Canada to examine how European countries use prescribing indicators, both within their country and across the European Union.

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