Routine monitoring of patients on antiretroviral therapy (ART) is crucial for measuring program success and accurate drug forecasting. However, compiling data from patient registers to measure retention in ART is labour-intensive. To address this challenge, the authors conducted a pilot study in Malawi to assess whether patient ART retention could be determined using pharmacy records as compared to estimates of retention based on standardized paper- or electronic based cohort reports.
Twelve ART facilities were included in the study: six used paper-based registers and six used electronic data systems. One ART facility implemented an electronic data system in quarter three and was included as a paper-based system facility in quarter two only. Routine patient retention cohort reports, paper or electronic, were collected from facilities for both quarter two [April–June] and quarter three [July–September], 2010. Pharmacy stock data were also collected from the 12 ART facilities over the same period. Numbers of ART continuation bottles recorded on pharmacy stock cards at the beginning and end of each quarter were documented. These pharmacy data were used to calculate the total bottles dispensed to patients in each quarter with intent to estimate the number of patients retained on ART. Information for time required to determine ART retention was gathered through interviews with clinicians tasked with compiling the data.
Tweya, H.; Feldacker, C.; Ben-Smith, A.; Harries, AD.; Komatsu, R.; Jahn, A.; Phiri, S.; Tassie, JM. Simplifying ART cohort monitoring: Can pharmacy stocks provide accurate estimates of patients retained on antiretroviral therapy in Malawi? BMC Health Services Research (2012) 12 (1) 210. [DOI: 10.1186/1472-6963-12-210]