The Canadian Clinical Drug Data Set — Our National Drug Terminology

By Tanya Achilles

In 2016, driven by Canada Health Infoway’s (Infoway’s) e-prescribing initiative, Infoway and Health Canada undertook a project to create the Canadian Clinical Drug Data Set, a national drug terminology.

This was a first of its kind in Canada and created a product that was already available in many other countries. What was unique to the Canadian approach was that the work was led as a partnership between the national drug regulator and the national digital health agency. Leveraging Infoway and Health Canada’s expertise and engaging an advisory group of vendors, physicians, nurses, pharmacists, safety organizations and jurisdictional representatives, a clinically focused drug terminology was developed by transforming and enhancing existing Health Canada drug content.

Why this is Important

A drug terminology is critical to supporting digital health projects such as: e-prescribing, e-medication reconciliation, hospital discharge reports and adverse drug reaction reporting, as well as opportunities to support national pharmacare. Foundational to these initiatives is the need to share information in a way that all systems understand, and to consistently represent medication characteristics such as ingredients, strengths and forms.

For Infoway’s e-prescribing project, the Canadian Clinical Drug Data Set also facilitates clinical workflows, supports drug interaction checking and allows prescriptions to be sent to provincial Drug Information Systems.

Key Accomplishments and Next Steps

Infoway and Health Canada have collaborated to create a drug terminology that has been successfully developed and rapidly deployed into systems, including electronic medical records (EMRs), Pharmacy Management Systems and Drug Information Systems, providing value for patients and their health care providers. It is now updated monthly and is freely available as a bilingual Health Canada product to support e-prescribing and future digital health initiatives. The Infoway and Health Canada teams continue to work together to enhance the product.

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About the author
Tanya Achilles

Tanya Achilles

Tanya Achilles is the Director, PrescribeIT® Medication Services. In this role she leads the development and implementation of the Canadian Clinical Drug Data Set to support PrescribeIT®, Canada’s national e-prescribing service. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy and a Master of Business Administration.