Improving prescribing through big data approaches - ten years of the Scottish prescribing information system

Bennie, Marion and Malcolm, William and McTaggart, Stuart and Mueller, Tanja (2019) Improving prescribing through big data approaches - ten years of the Scottish prescribing information system. British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology. ISSN 0306-5251 (

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Medicines are a major component of modern healthcare delivery, both in resource consumption and as drivers of innovation. The ever increasing application of digitalisation within day-to-day living and as part of our healthcare systems – with the resultant data generation – presents the opportunity to better define the populations exposed to medicines, and their benefits and harm in real world settings. This article outlines the development of the Scottish National Prescribing Information System (PIS) and describes how this capability is being used to support the safe and effective use of medicines, both nationally and internationally. Since 2009, PIS has included e-prescribed/e-dispensed and reimbursed medicines data, now totalling 976 million prescriptions, with codified structured data on dose instructions. A literature review, covering the period from January 2009 to March 2019, identified 40 full publications using PIS, the first occurring in 2014. The majority involved pharmacoepidemiology/drug use studies (50%) in cancer and cardiovascular disease. Measuring the value and impact of PIS was extended beyond publication quantification by illustrating the translation of PIS outputs into the learning health system at scale. The developing Scottish capabilities add breadth and depth to the wider evolving international environment, and offer the potential to contribute collegiately to the global effort on medicine safety and effectiveness, including support for the WHO Global Patient Safety Challenge: “Medication Without Harm”.


Bennie, Marion ORCID logoORCID:, Malcolm, William, McTaggart, Stuart and Mueller, Tanja ORCID logoORCID:;