The direct healthcare professional communication in context: current practice in Dutch hospitals and the way forward

Promotion E. de Vries

Healthcare professionals (HCPs) need to be informed when important new safety issues concerning medicines are identified. In the Netherlands, paper-based letters, which are drafted by marketing authorization holders together with regulators are sent to relevant healthcare professionals. These letter are called Direct Healthcare Professional Communication (DHPC).

Studies have shown that many Direct Healthcare Professional Communication only have a limited impact on the prescribing behaviour of healthcare professionals. This thesis of Esther de Vries provides insight into the extent to which Direct Healthcare Professional Communication impact Healthcare professionals behaviour in Dutch hospitals, possible explanations and what solutions to improve the impact could be. In focus groups, including medical specialists and hospital pharmacists, it became clear that only a few Direct Healthcare Professional Communication are met by specific actions. Our survey study among hospital pharmacies identified that agreements on a hospital level to handle Direct Healthcare Professional Communication hardly exist, and that it is up to the individual healthcare professionals to take appropriate action as they see fit.

We also identified that the current form of communication is not aligned with the preferences of healthcare professionals. Besides the preference for digital communication over receiving paper-based letters, some safety issues could be communicated periodically instead of immediately. This would concern safety issues that are less frequent, less severe, and do not require direct action. It also became clear that healthcare professionals state to take more actions following Direct Healthcare Professional Communication that have clear recommendations.

To improve the impact of Direct Healthcare Professional Communication, we advise that they should be better aligned with the communication preferences of the healthcare professionals and provide clear actionable recommendations.