Indian doctors may need to re learn how to write prescriptions


imagesThere are two important aspects to a marketing document. The first is the content and the second is the delivery.

When it comes to prescriptions things are no different. There was the all time joke about the doctor’s handwriting, which it seems only a chemist could read. This long standing joke probably starts from medical college hostels, where the seniors make the juniors copy notes. I had to disguise my writing in order to get away from fag work when I was in the hostel at Manipal. Now this aspect is the delivery in a marketing context.

(Image Source: Pharmacy Clipart)

But there were never any real concerns about the content. We all know that the doctors are very knowledgeable and their prescriptions are treated with the utmost respect. I believe that notion and feel that Indian doctors though underrated are probably the best in the world, taking into account the complexity and the volume of patients that they have to deal with.

But according to a recent survey by the conducted by a consortium of bodies including : the Department of Pharmacology, Maulana Azad Medical College (MAMC), Delhi Society for Promotion of Rational Use of Drugs, and Department of ENT, Lok Nayak Hospital, in association with the Department of Biostatistics, All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) not only do Indian doctors need to re learn how to write prescriptions but they also prescribe less than 50 % of the medicines on the Essential Medicine List (EML).

Now the EML was created by World Health Organization (WHO) in order to create a system for better availability of essential medicines in a region and also using the volumes to drive down the price of these medicines. Though the scheme if not without its flaws, I think even an amateur economist can tell you that the demand- supply equation favors a list like thi8s. Also India could do with better availability and cheaper medicines.

It seems not only were medicines from the EML not prescribed, but also a vast majority of the prescriptions were incomplete and not properly written.

From the sample batch that was selected for the study, not surprisingly Anti- microbial (Anti- biotic included)  formed the majority of the prescriptions, followed by Analgesics (pain Relief) , Anti Inflammatory & Anti Pyretic (For reducing the body temperature) and Tonics.

Finally the study it seems only covered doctors working in private clinics.

Now in my opinion the reasons for this could be that doctors are over worked and hardly find the time to keep themselves updated on key elements like the EML and also on the newer disease patterns and how to deal with them.

Almost all medical colleges do teach students on prescription writing but after a few years the new doctors are so over whelmed by the patient volume that they are unable to continue any form of education.

But one curious question I do have is why Government doctors are let out of such studies. Is it because the study was conducted by a collection of Government bodies and they wanted to remove the bias. Or is it that the private healthcare sector is a soft target and such studies do nothing to remedy their image?

In conclusion, we all as Healthcare professionals know where the problem is….. We can use technology as a means to run continue medical education programs…but is anyone really listening?

Comments and suggestions are welcome




Dr. Vikram Venkateswaran

Management Thinker, Marketer, Healthcare Professional Communicator and Ideation exponent

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