Shared learning database

NHS West Midlands
Published date:
February 2011

Development of an elearning platform to deliver educational materials to improve prescribing by junior doctors.

Does the example relate to a general implementation of all NICE guidance?
Does the example relate to a specific implementation of a specific piece of NICE guidance?


Aims and objectives

To improve the prescribing skills of newly qualified doctors during the formative years of their professional development. Thereby improving patient safety through safer, more rational and patient-focussed prescribing. To develop an elearning platform for the delivery of multimedia educational materials for newly qualified doctors. To produce content that supports safe, effective and appropriate prescribing across a wide range of key therapeutic areas. To ensure that all prescribers have access to a range of topical and relevant educational materials in a convenient and user-friendly format.

Reasons for implementing your project

The West Midlands Workforce Deanery commissioned a study to investigate how foundation year doctors learn the principles of good prescribing practice. The resulting report and the EQUIP study commissioned by the General Medical Council identified weaknesses in existing educational approaches. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with heads of foundation schools, clinical tutors and newly qualified doctors. The results suggested that newly qualified doctors were not well prepared for prescribing and that there was perceived variation in the provision of teaching in pharmacology and therapeutics. In January 2009, NICE published its guideline on Medicines Adherence. The guideline stressed the importance of a concordant approach between the prescriber and the patient (and, inter alia, the need to avoid considering non-adherence as a dysfunction of the patient) and supporting the patient after the medicine has been dispensed.

How did you implement the project

The West Midlands workforce deanery commissioned the development of an elearning toolkit to support raising prescribing standards. An educational consortium of three HEI providers was appointed to develop the learning platform and materials. The toolkit includes a blend of both therapeutics and patient-centred learning modules. This also enabled oversight of students and intervention by clinical tutors. The Deanery was successful in attracting funding from the Department of Health to support the initiative. Following the publication of the NICE clinical guideline on Medicines Adherence, a module specifically designed to test knowledge and provide educational materials for doctors in training was included in the development schedule. The purpose was to address shortfalls in knowledge about issues leading to non-adherence and to provide a focus on shared decision-making. The module addresses the main sections of the guideline and the recommendations for improving medicines adherence. It also provides practical suggestions on how the NICE guideline can be implemented in practice by providing strategies for shared decision-making.

Key findings

Thirty-nine learning modules will be developed. Fourteen of these have already been published and are in use by junior doctors. A formal evaluation is underway and will report in the autumn of 2011. However, early feedback suggests that the system is popular with both learners and tutors.

Key learning points

Involve all stakeholders from the outset of the initiative. Be clear about the intended outcomes and agree how the initiative will be implemented, including timescales. Be prepared for delays in the development of materials.

Contact details

Richard Seal
Programme Consultant in Medicines Management
NHS West Midlands

Is the example industry-sponsored in any way?