Optimising patient medication outcomes whilst minimising harm through the innovation and management of multiple medicines.

Today (5 November 2020) marks the launch of a 3 year €3.5 million cross-border project designed to transform the approach to optimisation of medicines in the three project jurisdictions.

Funded by the European Union’s INTERREG VA Programme, managed by the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB), ‘iSIMPATHY’ aims to ensure the optimal outcomes with medication use in those patients with more than one long-term illness. It will enable eligible patients to live healthy and active lives by supporting both them and clinicians in defining and achieving realistic goals of drug treatment through medicine reviews.

The project partners are Scottish Government, NHS Scotland, Northern Health & Social Care Trust, Medicines Optimisation Centre (MOIC) in Northern Ireland and the Health Service Executive in the Republic of Ireland. Scottish Government, Effective Prescribing and Therapeutics is the lead partner.
Ministers from the three project jurisdictions joined health professionals, public and third sector partners from Ireland, Northern Ireland and Scotland to announce the project launch at a virtual event held today.

Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport Scotland Jeane Freeman said:

“The iSIMPATHY initiative illustrates how we can work together to improve health and wellbeing, reduce health inequalities and still ensure the best use of health and care resources.

“I am proud that patient tools and learning developed in Scotland will be shared and implemented across the three project areas to support patients in the self-management of long-term conditions. I look forward to attending this virtual launch event.”

Minister Robin Swann, Department of Health Northern Ireland said “I am delighted to welcome today’s launch of the iSIMPATHY project. The original SIMPATHY project is a shining example of what can be achieved by working together across national boundaries to share experiences, best practices and practical tools to implement polypharmacy management programmes across Europe.

“Tackling inappropriate polypharmacy and ensuring the appropriate use of multiple medicines has been identified as a key priority for governments around the world by the World Health Organisation. With our aging population, it becomes ever more critical for European countries to work together in a focused way to manage and prevent inappropriate polypharmacy, and deliver better patient outcomes.”

Minister Donnelly of the Department for Health Ireland said “I am delighted to see that we are partnering with colleagues in Scotland and Northern Ireland, who have been world-leaders in tackling the challenges of polypharmacy and adherence and medicines optimisation respectively. This presents a real opportunity for Ireland to accelerate its work in this important area. Ensuring that every patient receives the optimal treatment and care is an absolute priority. This will help people to live healthy and active lives and reduce the need for hospital admissions. I am therefore very pleased to see the introduction of this timely initiative and look forward to seeing its outcomes.”

Outlining the importance of the project, Gina McIntyre Chief Executive of the SEUPB said: “This project will meet important targets within the health and social care objective of the EU’s INTERREG VA Programme. This is a very important part of the programme, which has created many new and innovative cross-border partnerships, similar to iSimpathy, who are working across Northern Ireland, Ireland and Scotland.

“By sharing knowledge, expertise and experience these partnerships are having a huge impact upon the health and well-being of tens of thousands of citizens. They are pushing boundaries, creating new and highly innovative ways of working and are helping to positively transform healthcare, for many years to come.”

Scottish Government Project Lead Alpana Mair said “I’m delighted we have now launched the iSIMPATHY project which builds on our previous EU funded project, SIMPATHY. This will ensure for patients with multimorbidity, their medication outcomes are optimised while minimising any harm. By placing the patient at the centre of the intervention and by involving them in the decision making about their medication, the aim is to support shared decision making, whilst also gaining their feedback to inform policy. Through this approach, we specifically want to focus on health inequalities to address inappropriate polypharmacy and adherence.”

From late 2019 to September 2022, iSIMPATHY will train health care professionals, across the three jurisdictions, to deliver 15,000 effective medicine reviews. The project will deliver the key principles of the WHO Third Global patient safety challenge, Medication without harm.

It will be implemented and operational in Northern Ireland, Scotland and the border region of Ireland. Through cross-border shared learning, the project will develop a systems approach that is scalable.

Match-funding for the project has been provided by the Departments of Health in Ireland and Northern Ireland as well as the Scottish Government.